Skip to main content

Full text of "How a lady, having lost a sufficient income from government bonds, by misplaced confidence, reduced to a little homestead whose entire income is but $40.00 per annum, resolved to hold it incurring no debts and live within it. How she has lived for three years, and still lives on half a dime a day. Added to which is a poem ... entitled "An abundant entrance.""

See other formats





Ll  \'  1  N(i 


1 1  at;faDimk  A  Daa  . 

wi  in 

\  BUND  ANT.  lN'tUAM€E 


PKICK    -4^)   <   i:n'18. 


iMitered  according:  tn  Ac  i   mI  (  i)iii;i\ss,  in  tU^  yeai 
l)\    .Mi.>.    I..   II     M^i\M(M  in,  ill  the  Otticc  oi'  ilu-    Librarian  >>(  (imgress, 

at    Waslnna'ton,   1 )    (   . 

How  A  Lady. 


— l-ROM — 





$40.00  PEt\  ANNUM. 

ReSOLVKD    lO    HOI.n    it.    INCURRIN(i    NO    Dkbts 

AM>     I.IVK    WITHIN    IT.  HOW     SHB:     HAS    LlVF.D     FOR    ThRKK 


MHilM)      1(1     WHICH     IS- 



HKH     -HI-     M  \s    I  MINI)     IIMK    K)    WKITE,    KMiil.KK 



I  ^m) ANT   ENTRANCE." 

<  or- 
PRICK.  '^5   CW«.ii|?:^y 

i^F  WAcV":^V 


Avar    VO/^A' 

John   M.   U as  i.s,  Tvi'or.RAi'HER.   Kdktv   Kdi.ton  Sikekt. 








Triis  TALK  is  a  fkithftil  narrative  of  facts  by  a  woman 
educated,  reared  in  abundance,  and  left  with  a  competence, 
which  she  used  freely  for  benevolent  purposes,  but  whose 
l^roperty  was  i-uthlessly  destroyed,  and  she  left  sick,  crippled, 
with  impending  blindness,  and  no  friends  to  look  to  tor 
support.  It  was  ])repared  for  a  lecture,  but  illness  rendered 
its  delivery  impo8sil)le.  It  is  printed  at  the  su-i>estion  of 




You  will  liardly  dissent  if  I  say  it  wimld  be  easier  to  tell 
liow  to  die  on  five  cents  a  day  than  how  to  live  on  that 
sum ;  perhaps  1  should  say  exist,  rather  than  live.  It  is  keep- 
ing soul  and  bodv  together  on  a  small  annuity,  and  I  mav 
say  in  the  outset  that  to  live  on  half  a  dime  a  day  will  prove 
an  infallible  "anti-fat"  remedy.  All  the  patent  bottles  ad- 
vertised to  prevent  obesity  will  have  to  point  heads  down, 
and  beat  a  retreat  to  ''  Coventry  "  before  this  bill  of  fare. 

But  I  must  admit  that  five  cents,  as  a  rule,  only  buys  the 
food  of  a  day,  and  other  things  than  victuals  are  needed  to 
enable  a  person  to  support  life.  There  must  be  a  place  to 
live  in,  certainly ;  there  must  be  clothing,  and  fire  in  cold 

T  had  an  old  house  and  some  land.  I  <iOt  twenty  dollars 
for  grass,  twelve  for  pasturing ;  in  good  years,  three  for 
apples.  There  was  no  work  1  could  do  owing  to  a  crippled 
arm  and  blinded  eye,  save  knitting  and  making  mock  flowers. 
The  utmostf  I  could  ever  earn  in  a  year  was  fifteen  dollars. 
Here,  then,  was  exactly  fifty  dollars,  from  which  ten  must 
l)e  deducted  for  taxes.  With  the  remainiui^  forty  I  was  not 
only  to  make  "  hotl*  ends  meet,"  Init  all  ends  meet,  and 
twist  into  a  neatly  knotted  skein,  as  my  frugal  gift  to  each 
succeeding  New  Year.  Three  years  my  "offering''  has 
been  made.  T  have  "  ijot  round  "  on  the  forty  dollars.  It 
has  been  accomplished  through  contrivance,  self-denial,  and 

Von  have  heard  of  the  man  who  "  awoke  one  morning 
and    found    himself  famous.''     I    awoke  one  morning  and 

4  HALF    A    DJME    A    DAY. 

found  myself  poor— so  sudden  as  that!  or,  I  don't  know  as 
I  can  say  I  awoke— I  was  like  one  in  a  dazed  dream  for 
months,  an  awful  dream,  in  which  a  frightful  incubus 
stretched  itself  across  my  gasping  life,  and  paralyzed  me 
with  cold,  clammy  terror.  I  was  as  one  stunned,  and  knew 
not  what  to  do.  There  was  the  old  roof  above  me,  dearer 
than  life.  To  sell  or  mortgage  it  seemed  like  disgracing 
myself  in  the  eyes  of  the  world  and  dishonoring  my  an- 
cestors. But  I  had  not  a  dollar  of  money  left,  and  I  had 
no  health.  Thus  there  was  no  work  to  which  I  could  turn 
to  earn  a  living.  You  have  heard  of  people  ''  living  by 
their  wits."  1  was  at  my  wit's  end  how  to  live.  Why 
didn't  I  let  my  place  on  shares?  I  was  too  wise,  thank 
you  ;  I  had  tried  that  twice  too  many  times  in  former  years. 
For  the  same  reason  I  did  not  take  a  familv  into  the  house. 
In  that  country  place  I  could  not  have  got  rent  enough  to 
pay  for  damages  done  the  buildings,  nor  could  I  have  borne 
the  unavoidable  noise  and  annoyance  of  a  family  in  my  ill 
health  and  nervous  debility.  So  there  were  forty  dolhirs  per 
annum  I  could  reasonably  count  on.  At  the  prospect  my 
stomach  began  to  fall  into  a  collapsed  state,  *'  Twenty  of 
this  forty  I  must  spend  for  food,"  1  thought.  But  the  pur- 
pose was  hardly  fledged  before  war  to  the  teeth  was  de- 

"  It  shall  never  be,"  said  the  mind ;  "  I  care  nothing  about 
your  old  body  ;  it  must  go  to  dust  soon,  any  way.  You 
must  understand  I  sha'n't  starve,  and  I  sha'n't  eat  trash, 
either.  I  have  always  had  the  best,  and  the  best  1  must 
have  still.  Understand,  once  for  all,  that  I  rule,  and  make 
your  plans  accordingly." 

Thus  mind  stepped  to  the  front  with  a  bold  standard  dis- 
played, and  it  was  for  me  to  quietly  recognize  its  position. 
I  would  live  on  seventeen  dollars,  and  save  three  to  con- 
tinue my  first-class  weekly  (C.  TL),  with  its  unrivalled  edito- 
rials and  Christian  instruction.  There  was  still  the  other 
half  of  the  forty  dollars  unappropriated.  I  sorely  wanted 
to  take  enough  from   it  to  supply  me  with  two  of  the  best 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  5 

iiiHirazines.  1  however  ventured  on  but  one,  thinking  there 
would  be  two  or  three  books  in  course  of  tlie  year  1  should 
feel  as  if  I  must  have. 

"  Wliat  expensive  tastes  !"  one  and  another  will  exclaim. 
Ah,  people  differ  in  their  ideas  as  to  what  is  and  what  is  not 
expensive.  To  pamper  the  body  and  famish  the  mind  I 
should  deem  the  most  ruinous  and  wicked  extravagance  ;  and 
a  so-called  cheap  newspaper,  which  deals  in  the  *'  abomina- 
tions of  society,  and  dumps  the  tilth  of  the  world  "  at  your 
door  every  week,  would  have  been  a  far  too  expensive  in- 
vestment for  me.  I  could  afford  no  such  luxury.  Seven- 
teen dollars  of  my  forty  I  assigned  to  supply  food,  ten  for 
reading,  leaving  thirteen  for  fuel.  I  fortunately  had  enough 
wood  on  hand  when  the  great  loss  befell  to  last  two-thirds 
through  a  winter.  The  next  one  I  got  through  with  one 
cord,  and  sawed  it  myself,  which  saved  a  dollar  and  a  half. 
I  could  only,  with  my  disabled  arm,  worry  off  a  few  sticks 
for  my  tire  each  day.  In  very  cold  spells  I  took  a  warm 
freestone  and  crawled  into  bed.  I  was  too  ill  to  work,  and 
thus  to  do  saved  tirewood.  1  would  put  mittens  on  my 
hands  and  read  a  while,  and  when  the  room  became  too  cold 
for  this,  cover  all  up  and  think  over  what  1  had  read.  This 
saved  me  in  a  degree  from  enervating  myself  further  by 
fruitless  poring  over  poverty  and  privations. 

I  had  enough  bed-clothes  for  comfort,  but  my  own  ward- 
robe, with  the  exception  of  one  black  suit,  was  pretty  low 
when  the  loss  came.  I  never  bought  a  dress  or  pair  of  shoes 
for  moie  than  three  years ;  it  was  entirely  beyond  my  means 
to  buy  any  article  of  clothing.  So  I  had  to  tax  both  inge- 
nuity and  industry  to  get  together  garments  enough  tor 
comfort  and  decency. 

I  had  a  palm-tigured  dressing-gown,  lined  with  purplish 
tiannel;  the  outside  of  this  was  all  in  tatters,  while  the 
lining  was  good.  I  ripped  it  in  pieces,  washed  and  pressed 
the  flannel,  got  out  enough  of  the  palm-tigures  to  make  three 
bands  around  the  skirt  and  sleeves.  These  helped  to  hide 
holes  and  faded  spots  in  the  flannel :  then  I  ravelled  an  old 

6  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY. 

scarlet,  worsted  under-sleeve,  and  trimmed  each  band  with 
a  narrow,  fluted  edge.  So  I  had  a  quite  dressy  dressing- 
o-own — clean,  whole — almost  tasteful,  and  I  took  genuine 
comfort  planning,  piecing  it  out,  day  after  day,  with -half 
mittens  on  my  cold  hands,  sitting  close  to  a  cold  Are.  I  was 
more  than  a  week  about  it,  for  owing  to  shortness  of  lire- 
wood  my  days  were  very  short,  and  my  lame  hand  was  very 
decrepid  and  painful.  I  recollected  that  when  I  had  made 
this  wrapper  out  of  an  abundance  of  nice,  new  materials,  I 
had  been  quite  impatient  at  having  to  sew  on  it  for  two 
days,  and  called  in  help  to  finish  it  otf.  People  who  saw  it 
after  it  was  remodelled,  said  it  was  handsomer  than  when  it 
was  new,  and  it  is  certain  I  thought  a  good  deal  more  of  it. 

I  said  then,  and  have  had  occasion  to  say  many  times 
since,  I  was  glad  1  bought  good  materials  when  1  had  the 
means,  for  they  could  be  worked  over  a  second,  even  a  third 
time,  to  much  better  prolit  and  advantage. 

I  made  a  whole  common  suit  out  of  an  old  straw-bed - 
tick,  and  out  of  the  fragments  of  a  pair  of  blue  drilling 
overalls  some  former  workman  had  left  on  the  premises  cut 
narrow  strips  and  stitched  on  the  skirts  for  trimmings.  Well, 
1  suppose  I  was  proud,  and  determined  to  have  some 
"style''  about  my  garments.  At  a  little  distance  my  suit 
appeared  like  a  neat,  striped  print,  or  more  like  a  substan- 
tial gingham,  and  it  had  the  wear  of  half-a-dozen  calicoes 
in  it.  Indeed,  it  comes  out  like  a  new  one  every  season, 
and  bids  fair  to  outlast  the  owner,  and  descend  to  pos- 
terity as  an  invention — may  I  not  say,  and  escape  the  charge 
of  vanity  ( — of  both  genius  and  necessity.  My  bed-tick 
gown!  Will  not  some  poet  step  forth  and  give  it  immor- 

Shoes  and  stockings  were  a  problem  for  a  long  time 
Shoes  I  had  to  learn  to  do  without  for  the  most  part.  One 
decent  j^air  1  trould  keep,  but  these  could  not  be  indulged 
in  every  day ;  such  extravagance  was  not  to  be  thought  of, 
T  took  the  soles  of  worn-out  rubbers,  lined  them  with  flan- 
nel, and  laced  them  on  my  feet  as  sandals. 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY. 

At  length  I  found  a  knitted  shawl  that  had  been  in  wear, 
I  suppose,  a  quarter  of  a  century,  and  quite   a    number  of 
under-garments,  which  had  been  knit  by  hand  out  of  home- 
spun yarn  in   the  old  days  when   my  father's   flocks  had 
whitened  the  hills,  so  barren  and  bush-grown  around  me 
now.     Then    it  had  been  the  custom  to  have  much  cloth 
woven,  and  much  yarn  spun  on  the  buzzing  old  spinning- 
wheel,  for  the  family  use.    All  chcse  garments  had  been  long 
thrown  by,  faded,  defaced,  and  past  wear.     They  were  a 
mass  of  ends  and  no  ends.    After  thoroughly  washing  them, 
I  tried  the  strength  of  the  yarn,  and  found  it  unrotted  and 
not  much  moth-eaten.     I  had   possessed  myself  of  quite  a 
prize.     But  it  was  the  work  of  weeks  to  ravel,  tie  up,  wind 
into  skeins,  color,  rinse,  and   rewind  into  balls  for  knitting. 
I  found  some  redwood  and  copperas,  so  I  had  several  shades 
of  color.     Then  I  proceeded  to  knit  five  or   six    pairs  of 
socks,  and  had  balls  of  yarn  left  to  ''  foot  down  "  for  years ! 
I  quite  revelled  in  an  abundance  of  materral,  and  said  exult- 
ingly,  "  There  is  one  thing  1  shall  not  lack  again  very  soon, 
perhaps  never,''  and  for  a  long  time,  the  last  thing  before 
retiring  at  night,  I  would  go  to  the  little  drawer,  pull  it 
open,   and   take  out  my  socks,  pair  after  pair,  and  survey 
them  with  a  fulness  of  satisfaction  I  had  never  in  better 
days  experienced  over  the  nicest  of  boughten  worsteds,  or 
even    silk.     These  were  trophies  of  toil    and   contrivance; 
they  had  cost  me  not  a  little  planning  and  labor,  and  I  re- 
garded them  as  my  own  successful  achievements  under  difH- 
culties.     Therefore  they  had  value  and  favor  in  my  eyes. 

1  had  fifteen  mottoes  in  the  house  made  on  white  muslin 
and  cotton  flannel.  I  soaked,  washed,  and  boiled  them 
clean,  and  supplied  my  drawer  of  linens. 

I  had  no  outside  garment  to  wear  abroad  save  a  very  old. 
defaced  water-proof  cloak.  It  looked  like  poverty  person- 
ified ;  it  was  ragged,  threadbnre,  the  sleeves  quite  gone,  of 
a  most  faded  and  weather-beaten  appearance.  There  had 
been  hanging  in  an  outer  room,  I  presume  for  fifteen  years, 
a  rusty,  fulled  cloth  overcoat  of  my  father's.     I  don't  know 

8  HALF    A     DIMK    A    DA^?, 

wiiv  I  had  not  ojiveii  it  away  long  before,  but  suppose  I 
rather  liked  to  see  it  liang  there  ;  it  had  a  sort  of  look  as  if 
he  were  somewhere  around  yet.  I  had  be.n  charged  witli 
keeping  that  and  a  great  pair  of  boots  to  frighten  tramps 
in  case  they  attempted  any  neighborliness.  A  sight  of  such 
largeness  in  apparel  might  lead  them  to  apprehend  there 
was  a  large  man  not  far  oif  whose  acquaintance  it  would 
not  be  iudicious  in  them  to  cultivate.  But  I  don't  think  J 
ever  attached  any  protective  power  to  these  articles.  I 
would  sometimes  get  into  them  myself,  when  I  had  to  go 
out  in  a  pouring  rain  to  adjust  the  cistern  for  catching 
water,  or  dig  a  snow-path  to  the  highway  in  winter. 

l5ut  now  that  my  wits  were  on  the  alert  for  means  to 
])iece  out  my  wardrobe,  1  passed  by  nothing,  and  left  no 
article  unscanned  that  could  afford  the  least  chance  of  aid. 
So  I  ])ut  my  hand  on  the  great  overcoat,  and  lifted  it  oft'  the 
wooden  peg.  How  heavy  it  was,  and  how  rusty  with  age  ! 
It  was  lined  throughout  with  line  black  lasting, .wadded  and 
quilted  in  diamonds.  My  eyes  gleamed  as  they  lighted  on 
this!  I  dragged  the  old  coat  oft'  to  my  room  in  triumph; 
there  I  gloated  and  exulted  over  my  prey,  as  I  whetted  a 
knife  and  went  at  it.  I  had  no  mercy,  but  just  ripped,  and 
ripped,  and  ripped,  till  the  floor  was  strewn  with  ])art8  of 
the  parted  garment.  The  other  side  of  the  thick  cloth  was 
a  line  dark  gray,  just  as  bright  as  new.  It  was  home-made 
cloth,  and  had  the  stock  and  value  in  it.  I  thought  so  much 
now  of  having  things  warm,  sucli  as  would  keep  the  cold 
out.  and  thus  help  save  fuel.  Next  I  took  my  old  water- 
proof cloak,  washed  and  pressed  it  smooth,  and  cut  away 
the  worn,  threadbare  portions,  to  replace  with  strips  of  the 
dark  gray  fulled  cloth  of  the  overcoat.  I  so  managed  that 
the  cloak  should  look  as  if  it  had  been  purposely  trimmed 
with  another  shade  of  material,  and  got  a  respectable  gar- 
ment that  would  do  good  service  through  a  number  of  cold 

The   cape  of   this  cloak  had   n  pretty  lining  of   broad- 
plaided  black-and-white  flannel.     This  1  removed  and  re- 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  9 

placed  with  some  breadths  of  old  alpaca,  which  answered 
very  well,  and  of  the  plaid  iiannel  I  fashioned  an  article  of 
apparel  suitable  to  wear  abroad  in  spring  and  summer 
weather.  To  make  it  a  better  size,  I  pieced  and  stitched 
black  gros-grain  ribbon  round  the  edge,  ravelled  a  pair  of 
under-sized  worsted  hose  to  knit  a  fluting,  and  flnished  this 
with  a  ball  fringe ;  and  it  was,  indeed,  as  pretty  a  cape  as 
most  anybody  had  !  1  expect,  yes,  I  know,  I  was  proud  of 
it,  for  I  would  try  it  on  at  home  before  the  glass  sometimes, 
a  thing  I  had  never  done  with  the  best  silk  dress  my  palm- 
iest prosperity  had  ever  gave  me. 

My  old  cloak,  renovated  and  remodelled  by  aid  of  the 
fulled  cloth  overcoat,  was  better  than  new  to  me ;  it  was 
surprising  what  satisfaction  I  ggt  out  of  my  hard-contrived 
garments!  Then  there  was  the  shiny,  quilted  lasting 
lining;  it  was  as  to  shape  almost  exactl}^  in  the  style  of  the 
reigning  cloaks  of  the  period,  and  the  quilting  was  quite 
stylish,  too.  I  had  some  cashmere  to  line  and  trim  it,  and 
my  cloak  was  a  "lit;''  it  was  "in  fashion;"  it  was  satin, 
if  you  did  not  get  too  near,  so  black  and  glossy  was  the  last- 
ing. If  I  had  only  been  a  rich  woman  still,  everj^body 
would  have  been  exclaiming  at  my  extravagance  in  buying 
a  quilted  satin  cloak  !  Lest  even  now  some  person  should 
not  see  straig^ht,  I  have  never  dared  wear  mv  cloak  abroad 
much.  I  luxuriate  in  it  at  home  on  cold  days,  it  keeps  out 
so  much  cold,  wadded  throughout,  and  is  as  good  as  an  oven 
on  my  back.  I  put  it  on  Thanksgiving  days  to  give  thanks 

I  was  in  a  state  of  high  exultation  after  such  a  series  of 
successes  with  the  old  overcoat ;  it  seemed  now  so  plain  why 
I  had  kept  it  so  many  years.  I  fancied  my  father,  mother, 
long  in  heaven,  saw  my  poor,  lame  fingers  and  purblind  eye, 
at  work,  ekeing,  mending,  and  repairing  my  scant,  worn 
garments,  so  intently  and  industriously  for  days  and  days, 
occupied  and  etigrossed  with  the  labor  almost  to  oblivion  of 
the  hard  fate,  the  wanton  wrong,  that  had  reduced  me  to 
tliis  extremity. 

lO  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY. 

But  what  pleased  me  most  of  all,  I  think,  were  the  shoes  I 
got  out  of  the  old   overcoat.     The  cloth  was  so  thick  and 
iirm  it  would  outwear  a  common  pair  of  slippers.    I  ripped 
up  an  old  shoe  to  have  a  good  pattern,  and  got  quite  a  neat 
fit.     1  haven't  had  to  go  without  shoes  since.     My  German 
slippers  are  said  to   be  prettier  than  those  ordinarily  found 
at  stores.    They  were  warm,  comfortable,  and  not  unsightly. 
Thev  satisfied  me.     More  than  that,  the  mind  failed  not  to 
celebrate  with  the  deep,  strong  joy  which  unwonted  effort 
and  endeavor  imparted,  every  victory  gained  over  the  su- 
premacy of  bodily  wants.     It   rejoiced   exceedingly   over 
every  obstacle  surmounted  which  hindered  or  disputed  its 
own   supreme  sway.      The  home-made  shoes  shut  off  the 
shoe-bill  at  the  store,  and  gave  me  Harper's  magazine,  with 
pages  more  irradiated  through  the  economy  and  contrivance 
by  which  I  had  possessed    myself  of   them,    than  by  the 
learning  and  genius  of  tiie  writers,  I  might  almost  say.    At 
least  the  having  worked  through  difficulties  to  obtain  the 
magazine   imparted  the  keenest  zest  and  enjoymeut  to  the 
reading.     I  had  fought  with  poverty  for  a  prize,  beat  down 
the  grim  monster,  and  come  off  victorious,  and  as  1  turned 
the  freighted,  sparkling  pages,  my  heart  sang  a  song  of 
triumph.  I  would  pull  on  my  half-mittens,  w^rap  my  double, 
gray  blanket  all  around  me,  put  a  freestone  to  my  feet,  and 
my  back  to  the  stove  with  its  very  small  fire,  and  go  to  my 
reading,  wondering    and    doubting    if    in   any  sumptuous 
parlor  of  wealth  and  magnificence  a  lady  in  diamonds  and 
velvets  sat  down  to  her  new  magazine  with  the  zest  and 
pleasure  that  I  did.    Of  course  not;  every  day  brought  new 
books  and  periodicals  to  her  hand,  to  be  skimmed  over  and 
lightly  tossed  aside.     My  one  or  two  were  read  and  reread 
and  thought  upon,  and   the  current  number  was  not  passe 
when  its  successor  came. 

Thus  mind  fought  the  battle  with  despondency,  in  which 
injustice,  wrong,  and  misfortune  threatened  to  engulf  it. 
There  were  enough  to  prescribe  society,  the  diverting  of 
attention  by  outside  objects.    But  society,  such  as  lay  around 

HALE    A    DIME    A    DAY.  I  I 

me,  did  not  present  anythini]^  worthy  or  engaging.  To  one 
who  had  once  and  again  proved  its  holUjwness  and  faJse  ap- 
pearances, its  insincere  professions  of  kindness  and  good 
faith,  it  was  sickening  and  revolting.  I  shrank  from  it  as 
a  "  burnt  child  dreads  the  lire/'  It  seemed  unfeeling  and 
cruel  to  urge  one  in  my  circumstances  to  go  into  society. 
There  my  mendicancy  would  be  thrust  upon  my  conscious- 
ness in  strongest  shades  of  contrast  with  former  ease  of  con- 
dition.  Under  my  own  roof  I  was  not  humiliated  beyond 
endurance ;  I  kept  my  self-respect  there ;  but  if  I  attempt- 
ed any  moving  about  in  former  circles,  the  comparison  of 
present  with  past  condition  forced  itself  on  me  with  such 
startling  vividness  that  I  was  overwhelmed,  and  felt  as  if 
going  distracted.  Everybody  was  trying,  consciously  or 
unconsciously,  to  adapt  themselves  to  my  new  situation,  and 
whether  it  was  by  an  increased  carefulness  to  show  atten- 
tion, or  a  haughty  distance  of  manner,  or  a  condescending 
patronage,  the  one  was  about  as  killing  as  the  other  to 
encounter ;  and  further,  my  dress  was  not  equal  to  the  de- 
mands of  society.  Had  I  seen  lit  to  forego  my  reading  and 
devote  my  utmost  dime  to  it,  I  must  still  have  been  a  shabby 
appendage  at  a  parlor  party.  If  I  could  have  had  access  to 
a  company  of  benevolent  woikers, persons  w^ho  had  a  really 
noble  and  useful  purpose  i'or  which  they  lived  and  labored, 
it  would  have  been  as  power  and  inspiration  to  one  in  my 
depression  and  pain.  With  all  of  life  wrenched  away  at 
once,  as  it  were  ;  its  long-accustomed  ways  and  habits  forced 
into  violent  and  sudden  change;  means  gone;  health  gone; 
the  friends  that  had  been  around  me  in  the  arduous  work  of 
a  term  of  years  gone  ;  a  ruin  in  the  midst  of  ruin,  as  I  seemed 
to  myself — if  I  could  have  entered  in  among  earnest  work- 
ers, and  added  a  mite  for  the  aid  or  relief  of  other  sufferers, 
it  would  have  been  as  the  jo}^  of  salvation  to  me;  for  in  my 
own  casting  down  it  seemed  as  if  the  woes  of  all  humanity 
"through  my  heart  made  a  thoroughfare."  I  was  afraid 
to  read  of  the  fearful  sufferings  of  the  famine-stricken  in 
India.     All    their  million    pangs  seemed   gnawing  at  my 

12  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAV. 

vitals,  yet  such  recitals  had  a  terrible  fascination.  I  would 
return  again  and  again  to  the  reading  of  them.  I  could 
picture  their  pangs,  desperation,  and  despair,  down,  down, 
till  starvation  had  finished  its  grim  and  horrible  work..  And 
I  would  long  to  feed  them  all,  for  I  was  full  of  pity  for 
their  lower  wants.  But  at  length  I  would  come  back  to  the 
thought,  God  seeth  and  takeih  cognizance  of  all  these  things, 
and  to  "  him  with  whom  a  thousand  years  are  as  a  day," 
what  an  insignificant  speck  and  atom  must  this  earthly  life 
appear!  And  yet  because  it  is  so  fleeting  and  small,  the  more 
would  one  like  to  be  doing  the  little  they  can  for  the  benefit 
of  their  fellow-beings,  tlie  more  they  would  long  for  some 
outreaching  beyond  self.  And  so  because  I  had  nothing, 
more  than  ever  I  wished  to  help  all  who  were  in  the  same 
condition.  I  always  held  in  reserve  a  dollar  or  two  for  any 
special  call  of  charity,  and  a  pittance  for  the  Bible  and  Mis- 
sion cause.  I  could  hardly  have  consented  to  breathe  with- 
out a  single  cent  to  bestow  in  benevolence.  A  person  who 
would  be  willing  to  be  an  unmitigated  mendicant  would 
not  be  a  person. 

But  to  return  to  my  struggle  with  and  against  material 
wants.  With  the  aid  of  my  father's  old  overcoat  I  subdued 
a  good  many  of  them  for  the  time  being,  as  has  been 
already  related.  The  succession  of  the  seasons  demanded 
changes  in  my  wardrobe  ;  a  flannel  gown  was  not  suited  to 
July  and  August,  nor  could  I  be  wearing  out  in  warm 
weather  what  I  should  so  need  in  cold.  I  thou^jht  about 
cutting  up  an  old  Allendale  bed-spread  to  make  me  a  very 
grand  white  wrapper,  but  this  I  rejected  as  a  temptation  to 
reckless  extravagance.  How  should  I  ever  possess  myself 
of  another  counterpane  ?  and  this  one  would  answer  a  num- 
ber of  years  with  care  and  darning.  Then  I  unfolded  and 
scanned  two  red-and-white  tablecloths  in  small  checker- 
work.  I  should  never  spread  tables  again  for  visitors ;  these 
cloths  were  not  of  much  use ;  they  had  served  some  years, 
and  had  holes  and  stains.  They  would  make  me  a  cool  and 
serviceable  wrapper— not  becoming,  and  odd— but  then  few 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  I3 

would  see  nie  wear  it,  and  poverty  must  not  expect  to  con- 
sult taste  with  freedom.  But  then  to  wear  a  tablecloth  for 
a  dress  !  to  take  that  on  which  food  had  been  spread  out  for 
the  support  of  the  body,  and  make  of  it  a  covering  and  pro- 
tection for  the  person  !  Would  tlie  tablecloth  be  elevated 
or  lowered  by  such  appropriation  'i  It  would  be  a  divorce- 
ment from  its  natural  uses.  I  refrained  my  scissors  for  a 
time;  though  I  might  never  want  a  tablecloth  again,  1 
would  wait  and  plan  awhile  befoi-e  making  the  red-checkered 
ones  into  a  summer  wrap.  To  buy  a  few  yards  of  cambric 
or  tjalico  was  out  of  the  question  ;  there  was  a  fear  of  not 
bringing  the  year  around  by  the  most  rigid  economy. 

One  day,  behind  the  door  of  a  dark  closet,  in  an  old  room 
where  a  widow's  goods  were  stored,  of  which  I  made  no  use 
and  entered  but  occasionally,  I  put  my  hand  on  a  cotton 
garment,  and  rather  wondering  it  should  be  there,  took  it 
to  the  light  to  see  what  it  might  be.  It  was  a  chocolate-and- 
white  print-dress  that  had  been  my  mother's.  1  recollected 
of  having  given  it  to  the  girl  who  helped  me  through  her 
last  illness,  directly  after  her  death  and  burial.  The  girl 
had  at  that  time  occupied  this  old  chamber  ;  it  appeared  she 
had  not  taken  the  dress  away  with  her,  and  year  after  year 
had  passed  by  with  it  hanging  in  solitary  disuse  behind  the 
dark  closet-door.  It  was  almost  as  if  my  mother  herself 
had  come  back  to  me,  it  brought  such  a  vision  of  her  as  she 
was  in  her  last  days,  her  little  bowed,  tremblino:  figure  clad 
in  the  small-Hgured  calico  wrapper  my  own  nimble  young 
fingers  had  made.  It  certainly  seemed  as  if  in  this  hour  of 
need  her  arm  reached  from  die  unseen  to  offer  aid — to  offer 
what  had  been  her  own,  and,  mother-like,  to  offer  her  all. 

"  Take  it  and  wear  it ;  it  has  stayed  for  a  time  like  this," 
the  mother-voice  seemed  to  say.  So  I  brought  it  forth, 
touching  it  with  a  half  reverent  awe  It  was  not  long  enough 
for  me,  but  it  had  been  made  before  the  era  of  gores ;  thei'e 
were  five  wide  breadths  in  the  skirt  ;  so  I  could  remove  a 
whole  one,  divide  it  in  three  parts,  and  full  the  remaining 
ones  on  to  it;  and  whenever  I  caught  a  reflection  of  myself 

14  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY*. 

ill  a  mirror  moving  about,  it  Reemed  as  if  it  was  my  mother 
come  back  to  me  ;  as  if  in  my  loneliness,  loss,  and  pain,  she 
had  come  and  clothed  me  with  herself !  So  the  dress  sup- 
plied far  more  than  my  bodily  needs  ;  it  was  company 
and  comfort  to  my  mind  as  well,  and  if  tears  rolled  down 
and  wet  it  sometimes,  as  the  sight  of  it  recalled  but  too 
vividly  the  blessed  years  when  sympathy,  protection,  and 
love  were  my  abundant  possessions,  they  were  soothing, 
relieving  tears,  for  I  said,  "Mother  still  is  somewhere;  the 
going  years  are  bearing  me  toward  her ;  I  shall  hear  her 
voice  and  have  her  love  again." 

In  life's  supreme  moments,  when  stern  realities  press 
close  and  hedge  us  in  on  every  side,  how  does  the  mere 
superficial  fall  to  naught !  How  trivial  and  below  respect 
appear  the  occupations  and  pursuits  of  worldlings  !  Truly. 
"  What  shadows  they  are,  and  what  shadows  they  pursue  !" 
I  saw  people  arrayed  in  finery,  and  marvelled  that  I  could 
ever  have  done  the  like.  I  pitied  the  short-sighted,  low- 
minded  creatures,  and  felt  ashamed  for  them — absorbed  in 
triiies — as  if  their  clothes  were  their  all ! 

"  Everybody  is  as  God  made  him,  and  oftentimes  a  good 
deal  worse,"  says  Cervantes.  Very  true ;  there  is  a  better 
side  to  every  nature,  which  if  cultivated,  may  bring  forth 
passably  good  fruit,  but  it  is  too  often  left  in  neglect  to  be 
overgrown  with  rank  and  noisome  weeds.  It  requires 
thoughtfulness,  effort,  self-denial,  to  nurse  it  into  growth, 
and  most  people  dislike  such  labor  as  this.  It  is  easier  and 
pleasanter  to  go  with  the  crowd,  and  be  one  with  them  ;  live 
for  the  present  moment,  in  the  gratification  of  the  senses, 
not  the  least  ashamed  to  admit — say  it  even  self-approving- 
ly,  "It  is  my  aim  to  take  the  first  care  of  myself,  and  live 
just  as  long  as  I  can."  This  is  on  a  level  with,  "  Eat  as  much 
as  you  can,  it  is  all  you  are  sure  of !"  Some  are  sure  of  con- 
siderable, even  if  this  is  all.  The  kingdom  of  heaven  can 
never  come  till  everybody  says,  and  acts  up  to  that  saying, 
"It  is  my  chief  aim  to  help  others,  nor  do  I  wish  to  live 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  1 5 

loiu^er  than  I  can  be  useful  in  the  world."    ''  He  liveth  Ions: 
who  liveth  well.'- 

Often  I  saw  people  rolling  past  in  easy  carriages,  but  the 
slight  awoke  neither  envy  nor  longing  in  my  heart.  I  was 
rather  glad  to  be  rid  of  it  all.  I  had  always  preferred  a  walk 
to  a  ride,  and  style,  circumstances,  had  placed  riding  beyond 
my  power.  Pain  and  apprehension  of  accident,  having  the 
sore,  crippled  arm,  made  riding  something  to  dread  and 
avoid  as  much  as  possible.  I  was  distressed  if  asked  to 
ride,  and  had  to  refuse. 

I  suppose  some  lady  is  wondering  by  this  time  what  I  did 
for  a  bonnet,  and  it  is  an  easy  task  to  give  information  on 
this  point.  I  simply  went  without  one.  Hat  or  bonnet  1 
had  not  for  four  years.  As  I  make  this  assertion  I  have  a 
misgiving  that  it  will  not  be  credited.  I  feel  that  it  is  an 
unparalleled  one  in  the  annals  of  modern  life  and  custom, 
yet  I  could  lay  my  hand  on  the  Book  and  solemnly  assert 
its  truth. 

A  woman  four  years  without  a  bonnet  I  in  this  enlight- 
ened land,  in  the.  latter  part  of  the  nineteenth  century — 
not  a  particularly  old  or  sick  woman  either,  and  one  who 
read  Mrs.  Browning,  the  best  mairazines,  and  all  the  leaduig 
divines  of  the  age,  at  home  I  Was  she  demented  ?  It  is 
perhaps  not  for  me  to  say.  1  can  only  admit,  that  if  1  went 
abroad  1  wore  a  romance  on  juy  head  instead  of  a  bonnet 
(not  "  The  Blithdale  "),  a  false  appearance,  a  deceitful  show, 
wrapped  about  in  a  screening  veil — some  shape  of  a  hat 
destitute  of  trimmings,  its  barrenness  concealed  in  friendly 
folds  of  barege.  It  was  my  one  deception  in  dress,  and  I 
deemed  it  a  pardonable,  yea,  a  commendable  one,  under  the 
circumstances.  I  would  rather  wear  a  romance  than  a  mort- 

I  knit  some  winter  gloves  of  ravelled  black  worsted,  and 
for  the  rest,  one  pair  of  Lisle  thread  went  through  four  sea- 
sons ;  they  were  washed  from  slate  color  to  dirty-white,  and 
dyed  in  tea  several  times.  I  always  felt  my  poorest  when  I 
wore    them,  and    sat  shaniefaced    and    silent,   as   if  struck 

l6  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY. 

(himb  at  sight  of  my  own  abjectness.  The  careful  darns 
betrayed  a  watchful  anxiety  ever  on  tlie  stretch  ;  a  cease- 
less, laborious  endeavor  to  be  decent,  and  were  as  So  many 
not-to-be-mistaken  proofs  of  poverty — unwilling,  extorted 
confessions  of  want. 

However  hard  it  may  be  to  do  without  the  comfort, 
abundance,  or  elegance,  which  may  once  have  been  our  own, 
it  is  doubtless  not  a  poor  and  useless  lesson  to  learn  how 
much  we  can  do  without,  and  yet  suffer  no  essential  loss  of 
what  is  noblest  and  best.  To  fall,  or  to  rise,  from  the  ad- 
ventitious to  the  real,  is  in  truth  not  a  misfortune.  For 
such  as  live  in  a  vain  show,  when  the  power  to  make  a  show 
is  gone,  all  is  ^one.  But  if  life  has  deeper  springs,  then  it 
can  survive  a  drought,  and  make  for  itself  some  greenness 
and  fragrance  in  a  bare  desert  of  poverty  and  pain.  All 
that  is  adventitious — all  that  is  human  may  fall  away  from 
us — what  are  our  resources  then  ?  have  we  any  ?  The  trial 
will  prove  us,  test  our  strength,  and  show  of  what  mettle 
we  are  made.  A  novice  can  manage  a  sailboat  on  a  smooth 
sea  under  a  smiline:  skv,  when  it  does  not  need  any  mana- 
ging ;  but  let  the  winds  roar  and  the  breakers  come,  and  the 
boat  will  go  to  the  bottom,  unless  there  is  a  skilled,  cour- 
ageous hand  at  the  post  of  duty.  So  any  poor,  weak,  life- 
voyager  can  manage  a  calm  ;  it  is  the  managing  of  the  crisis 
that  is  the  test. 

But  as  to  the  half  dime  a  day :  that  is,  the  providing  of 
food  for  that  sum.  It  did  not  take  that  every  day,  by  any 
means.  I  saved  enough  from  this  allotment  to  supply  divers 
little  necessary  articles— a  bunch  of  matches,  spool  ot  thread, 
paper  of  needles — even  a  gallon  of  oil  now  and  then. 
Almost  the  year  round  I  used  a  lamp-stove  for  cooking 
purposes ;  it  was  cheaper  than  fuel,  and  more  convenient. 
Kerosene  in  summer  could  be  bought  very  low,  and  then  I 
would  get  enough  to  last  through  cool  weather. 

Sometimes  I  would  go  through  a  whole  week  on  two 
baker's  loaves — sixteen  cents;  a  tablespoonful  of  ginger, 
and  gill  of  molasses — not  more  than  twenty-three  cents,  thus 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  1 7 

saving  twelve  out  of  the  thirty-five  aHotted  for  the  week's 
expenses.  But  tliis  was  wlien  my  health  was  feeble,  and  I 
confined  to  couch  almost  altogether.  I  was  in  this  state 
more  than  a  year.  I  made  large  use  of  cornmeal,  of  course 
it  being  cheap  and  nutritious.  One-fourth  pound  of  meal, 
one  cent;  one-fourth  pound  of  dried  beans,  one  and  a  half 
cents;  two  cents'  worth  of  salt  pork  ;  four  and  a  half  cents 
in  all,  would  support  me  a  day  and  a  half  very  well.  This 
was  my  usual  fare  three  days  out  of  seven.  Three  cents' 
worth  of  barley  boiled  with  two  cents'  worth  of  butcher's 
trimtnings,  and  three  cents'  worth  of  potatoes,  would  make 
wholesome,  nourishing  food  for  two  days,  and  go  a  long  way 
towards  supporting  existence. 

I  have  heard  it  said  a  German  can  live  on  what  a  Yankee 
would  throw  away,  and  a  Jew  could  live  on  what  a  German 
would  throw  awaj',  and  a  Chinaman  could  live  on  what  a 
Jew  would  throw  away.  1  almost  thought  I  could  bear  off 
the  palm  from  the  whole  of  them,  and  live  on  what  a  China- 
man would  throw  away — if  he  was  a  clean  one. 

1  made  a  considerable  use  of  rice  and  salted  iish.  In  cool 
weather,  a  ))ound  of  oatmeal  cooked  on  Monday  would  serve 
for  a  dessert  through  the  week.  Sometimes  i  had  a  ^ift  of 
milk,  and  then  I  feasted  like  an  epicure.  I  usually  allotted 
a  small  cup  of  molasses  as  sauce  and  relish  to  a  pound  of 
oatmeal.  Now  and  then  I  had  some  kind  of  a  ve^retable,  as 
a  beet,  or  a  turnip,  and  from  time  to  time  bought  a  few 
cents'  worth  of  butcher's  scraps,  moi"e  to  season  food  than  to 
be  food.  When  eggs  were  cheap,  I  made  use  of  them.  I 
did  not  buy  when  they  were  more  than  ten  cents  a  dozen. 
I  never  could  make  these  go  as  far  as  I  had  heard  of  one 
housewife  doing,  who  would  cook  one  for  a  family  of  five, 
and  after  all  had  eaten  freely,  there  would  still  be  some  left ! 
Perhaps  this  lady  bought  her  ovas  of  an  ostrich  or  a  moa 
bird  ;  mine  were  only  barn-door  biddies'  eggs,  and  I  was 
apt  to  want  two  tor  breakfast. 

Once  a  month  I  indulged  in  a  baking  of  gingerbread,  or  got 
a  pound  of  lard  and  fried  an  eating  of  doughnuts,  about  six. 

I  8  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.. 

one  at  a  time,  in  a  tin  cup  over  my  oil-stove.  I  always  en- 
joyed the  trying  of  the  doughnnts,  and  looked  forward 
to  it  with  a  zest  of  anticipation ;  they  generally  came  up 
plump  and  round,  and  quite  filled  the  little  cup  of  boiling 
lard.  I  picked  them  out  with  a  fork,  and  invariably  ate  the 
iirst  one  while  the  second  was  cooking.  After  that  1  let 
them  congregate  on  a  plate,  and  watched  their  numbers  in- 
crease to  iive,  six,  seven — never  more  than  that.  These  and 
the  gingerbread  were  usually  mixed  with  water,  and  no 
shortening,  but  if  eaten  warm,  or  pretty  soon  after  the  cook- 
ing, very  good,  as  I  considered.  They  were  my  occasional 
luxuries.  I  would  think,  as  I  tended  my  lonely  doughnut 
in  the  small  cup  of  fat,  of  the  great  panfulls  of  brown  beau- 
ties I  had  cooked  in  former  years,  and  thought  very  lightly 
of  them;  not  ungrateful,  but  regarding  a  full  supply  of  all 
good  things  for  the  stomach  as  a  matter  of  course,  never 
dreaming  a  time  would  come  when  I  must  choose  between 
lower  and  higher  food,  a  table  spread  for  the  body,  or  a  table 
spread  for  the  mind,  or  of  lessening  the  supplies  of  one  for 
the  sake  of  furnishing  out  the  other.  Once,  perhaps,  I 
should  not  have  done  thus.  Not  a  few  times  have  I  been 
told  by  those  who  deemed  themselves  much  wiser  than  I 
that  I  was  starving  myself;  that  it  was  wicked  not  to  take 
care  of  one's  body  ;  nobody  could  live  without  good  food. 
But  my  food  toas  good,  or  I  was  greatly  mistaken,  for  I  ate 
it — devoured  it,  I  might  say,  with  the  eager  relish  of  a  grow- 
ing child.  It  lacked  in  variety,  perhaps ;  it  was  not  rich  ;  it 
was  fairly  cooked  and  regularly  taken,  and  of  a  kind  to  bring 
the  best  returns  in  health  and  strength. 

Of  course  I  had  times  of  longing  for  "  the  flesh-pots  of 
^&JP^-"  ^^^  Saturdays  I  would  think  of  the  great  bakings 
going  on  in  the  houses  around  me,  and  see  in  fancy  the  array 
of  fresh  bread-loaves,  pies,  and  sweet  cakes,  on  the  pantry 
shelves,  almost  seem  to  inhale  the  odors  of  good  cooking, 
and  contrast  this  spectacle  with  my  empty  old  cupboard  : 
empty  now  and  evermore,  or  with  just  a  pint-pot  of  oatmeal 
in  a  corner,  and   very  likely  my  mouth  would  water  till   1 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  I9 

buried  myself  in  some  book  which  exalted  the  value  of  the 
soul,  and  made  contemptible  the  course  of  such  as  live 
supremely  for  the  gratilieations  of  the  present  life.  Persons 
of  this  stamp  would  assert,  directly  or  indirectly,  the  supe- 
riority of  their  method  of  living,  and  declare  it  the  most 
Quixotic,  foolish,  wicked  thing,  to  stint  one's  self  in  food 
and  clothes.  "Folks  must  live."  Why  must  they  live?' 
What  must  thev  live  for?  To  eat  and  wear  clothes?  Allow 
me  to  say  in  all  candor  and  reverence,  I  should  rather  die 
than  thus  exist.  Of  course  a  person  cannot  live  without 
food  and  raiment,  but  that  these  should  be  the  chief  concern, 
the  object  and  end  of  existence,  as  it  were,  is  pitiful  and 
humiliating  among  a  people  who  have  enjoyed  the  benefits 
of  civilization,  and  have  some  degree  of  education  and  in- 
telligence. A  sudden  and  complete  change  of  circumstances 
compelled  me  to  choose  w^iich  I  would  serve,  and  which 
should  serve  me — mind  or  matter.  I  don't  know  as  I  hes- 
itated at  all ;  certain  things  I  knew  I  must  have,  certain 
others  it  would  be  possible  to  do  without.  1  declared  for 
mind.  I  felt  like  one  cut  loose  from  time  clinging  to  eternity. 
This  life,  this  perishable  body,  must  soon  go ;  the  little  I 
could  still  manage  to  do  must  be  for  the  immortal  part. 
There  was  a  certain  tyranny  of  opinion  to  endure,  afflictive 
enough,  and  on  which  I  grew  thinner  than  on  dried  beans 
and  oatmeal ;  the  best  I  could  do  was  to  hold  myself  aloof 
from  it.  Less  than  ever  now  could  I  allow  others  to  lay 
down  the  law  for  me  to  follow  ;  stern  necessity  was  com- 
peting to  a  more  decided  and  pronounced  individuality  than 
ever  before. 

I  make  a  brief  digression  to  say  I  have  been  waiting  a 
life  time  to  canonize  any  who  would  afford  me  opportunity, 
but  the  lirst  name  is  yet  to  be  enrolled  in  my  calendar  of 
saints.  It  is  amazing.  I  don't  remember  that  I  ever  took 
the  liberty  to  call  any  person  to  acc(5unt  as  to  their  particu- 
lar style  and  method  of  living ;  but  no  one  enters  my  doors 
without  taking  me  to  task,  more  or  less  sharply,  often  fling- 
ing stern  reproach  and  condemnation  on  my  unsocial,  un- 

20  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.    • 

natural,  morbid,  monstrous  way  of  life.  Do  not  be  too 
much  alarmed ;  I  am  not  quite  an  ogress  or  a  tigress.  I 
simply  live  by  myself.  As  if  no  one  ever  lived  thus  before  ! 
Why,  I  know  a  dozen  people  who  live  thus,  and  are  .not 
scoffed  at  and  condemned  to  death  for  it  as  I  am.  As  if  I 
was  to  blame  for  being  alone  !  Was  it  not  hard  enough  to 
lose  all  near  friends  when  comparatively  young,  and  be  left 
thus,  without  being  reproached  for  the  aloneness,  as  it  were  ? 
The  iirst  person  who  doesn't  take  exception,  arraign,  or  de- 
nounce me,  on  account  of  my  quiet  way  of  life,  I  wait  to 
canonize.  If  I  were  to  devour  myself  with  envy  of  those 
happily-constituted  people  who,  when  near  ties  are  broken, 
can  readily  form  new  ones,  it  would  not  help  me  to  have  a 
nature  like  theirs,  and  so  it  could  not  help  my  condition, 
but  would  rather  render  it  more  grievous.  There  is  no 
loneliness  like  the  loneliness  of  feelings  unreplied  to ;  and 
there  is  this  one  comfort  for  odd  people,  that  no  creature 
God  has  made  can  seem  odd  or  strange  in  his  sight ;  he 
comprehends  the  full  character,  and  at  last  the  lonesome 
spirit  may  un burthen  itself  to  him,  with  no  fear  of  being 
misapprehended  or  misunderstood. 

And  yet  if  there  might  be  a  somebody  who  would  think 
enough  of  earth  and  earthly  things  to  treat  them  nicely,  and 
yet  not  be  engrossed  in  them  and  enslaved  by  them,  to  the 
utter  neglect  and  forgetfnlness  of  higher  and  better  things, 
such  a  choice  sort  of  somebody  it  might  be  safe,  pleasant, 
and  helpful  to  have  near.  But  so  many  live  rudely  and 
grossly,  and  care  for  no  better  way,  do  not  believe  there  is 
any  better  way,  and  mock  at  refinement  and  insult  good 
taste  and  order. 

Thus  there  has  always  been  a  tendency  to  criticism  in  my 
case,  and  when  reverses  came  people  were  freer  than  ever  to 
express  views,  offer  advice,  and  point  out  the  proper  course 
of  action,  • 

"  Let  your  place,  or  sell  it,  and  buy  a  snug  cottage  ;"  or 
''hire  your  board,  and  have  things  nice  and  comfortable  as 
long  as  you  live,''  said  one  ;   and  another  : 

HALE    A    DIME    A    DAY.  21 

"  I  wish  I  was  as  sure  of  being  comfortably  provided  for 
in  old  age  as  you  are." 

Such  persons  were  either  ignorant  of  circumstances,  or 
lacked  good  sense,  or  were  thoughtless  and  unfeeling.  To 
let  my  place,  experience  told  me  would  be  fraught  with  loss 
and  annoyances  my  present  state  of  health  could  not  endure. 
As  to  selliniT  it,  I  loved  it  better  than  life,  and  never  under- 
stood I  could  get  more  than  six  hundred  dollars  for  it;  but 
if  I  could  have  got  twice  that  sum,  and  essayed  to  buy  an- 
other, little  would  have  been  left  for  my  support.  My  table 
would  not  have  been  much  better  supplied  than  at  present, 
and  life  would  not  have  been  life  away  from  the  old  home. 
If  I  had  hired  my  board,  the  money  would  have  slipped 
from  me  almost  before  I  was  aware,  probably,  and  left  me 
on  public  charity.  My  house  might  have  held  a  few  board- 
ers, if  I  could  have  superintended  them,  but  my  crippled 
arm,  poor  health,  and  nervous  depression,  would  not  admit 
of  this.  1  should  have  to  see  it  go  into  dilapidation  and 
decay,  if  life  was  much  prolonged.  The  roofs  leaked  now, 
the  windows  were  rickety,  the  chimney  discharged  a  mourn- 
ful brickbat  in  every  driving  storm.  Out  of  the  wreck  of  all, 
if  I  could  garner  enough  to  subsist,  save  a  few  dollars  for 
good  books,  and  a  few  more  to  help  any  worse  oft*  than  my- 
self, and  add  a  mite  to  benevolent  causes,  it  was  all  I  hoped 
or  expected.  Thus  far  I  have  done  this.  I  have  lived  and 
thrived  in  a  small  way  on  half  a  dime  a  day,  or  rather,  on 
forty  dollars  a  year,  all  things  included.  For  clothing  there 
has  been  no  outlay  of  money.  Contrivance  and  a  crippled 
hand  has  supplied  all  my  garments.  As  to  fuel,  1  am  not 
accustomed  to  provide  more  than  three  cords  a  year,  nine 
dollars  usually,  and  manage  to  saw  most  of  it  as  I  want  to 
use  it ;  save  in  winter,  I  pick  up  the  wood  I  burn — dead 
tree-limbs,  pine-cones,  and  moss  for  kindlings.  For  almost 
all  cooking,  as  I  have  said,  I  use  an  oil-stove.  On  this  I 
often  heat  a  freestone,  and  wrap  myself  up,  so  as  not  to 
require  a  lire  in  my  air-tight  stove  till  pretty  cool  weather. 
The  cold  snaps  in  winter  are  so  paralyzing  to  the  partially 

22  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY. 

perished  arm,  I  can  do  no  kind  of  work  ;  so  then  when  I  can 
earn  nothing,  I  can  at  least  save  wood  by  covering  up  in  bed. 
I  do  not  exactly,  like  the  mole  and  dormouse,  burrow  for  the 
winter.  In  mild  spells  I  thaw  out,  and  do  my  best  to  bring 
up  things  that  have  fallen  into  arrears  during  the  cold  term. 
I  search  the  drawers  and  closets  in  the  old  house  to  see  if  I 
may  not  come  upon  some  material  out  of  which  to  fashion 
some  small  holiday  gifts  for  children  and  friends  who  bring 
me  baskets  of  benefaction  at  times  through  the  year.  I 
ought  to  have  made  mention  of  these  before. 

It  has  been  my  experience  in  falling  into  adverse  fortune 
to  receive  most  aid  and  kindness  from  sources  I  should  not 
have  expected  to  receive  from :  from  persons  comparatively 
strangers  till  the  adversity  befell,  that  I  had  done  no  favors 
and  had  no  claims  on  ;  while  others  I  thought  would  increase 
their  friendliness  and  oiFerings  have  withdrawn  and  made 
themselves  strangers;  I  know  not,  nor  ever  shall  know  the 
reason  why.  But  I  must  not  speak  of  this;  it  was  a  greater 
agony  than  the  loss  of  money. 

The  only  sympathy  deserving  the  name  has  come  from 
those  who  have  been  themselves  sufferers ;  many  have 
mocked  me  with  their  pity  because  they  did  not  know  my 
pain  ;  others  have  ignored  the  great  trouble  and  loss,  and 
carried  themselves  as  if  it  were  but  a  morbid  imagination, 
thus  adding  insult  to  indifference.  Under  most  of  the  prof- 
fered advice  or  consolation  I  have  needed  to  pray  every 
moment,  "  Forgive  them,  they  know  not  what  they  do,"  for 
it  all  was  but  afflicting  the  afflicted. 

My  most  efficient  aid  has  never  come  from  the  rich  ;  they 
have  made  some  casual  proffer,  and  soon  forgot  it,  leaving 
me  more  distressed  than  before  it  was  made.  From  the 
but  moderately  well  off,  from  the  widow  in  straitened  cir- 
cumstances, the  best  help  has  come.  They  have  been  more 
ready  to  divide  their  little,  than  the  rich  to  give  out  of  such 
an  abundance  that  they  would  never  feel  or  miss  the  charity 
bestowed,  if  that  be  a  charity  which  costs  neither  sacrifice 
nor  self-denial. 

HALF     A     DIME    A    DAY.  2^ 

The  friends  of  life's  darker  dav8  will  never  he  forijotten  : 
they  enahle  one  to  think  hetter  of  human  nature  ;  tliat  there 
are  a  few  here  and  there  who  are  drawn  rather  than  repelled 
by  adversity  ;  who  show  a  practical  belief  in  the  Bible, 
which  says,  ''  Remember  the  poor,''  rather  than  in  the  Ko- 
ran, which  says,  "  Deal  with  the  fortunate." 

But  it  may  be  said  in  this  style  of  living  there  was  no 
provision  for  incidental  expenses  or  contingencies,  and  no 
one  can  live  long  without  encountering  these.  Very  true  ; 
when  my  gate-fastenings  were  stolen  (or  when  they  evapo- 
rated, or  the  wind  blew  them  away),  I  tied  it  together  with 
strings ;  when  the  shed  rained  down  too  hard  in  one  spot,  I 
moved  the  wood-pile  to  another  (fortunately  it  never  took 
more  than  live  minutes)  ;  when  thirty  shot-holes  were  put 
throui^h  a  front  window  bv  some  wanton  hand,  I  closed  the 
blinds  and  lee  it  go  ;  when  the  plastei'ing  dropped  down  in 
the  rooms,  I  pasted  patches  of  cloth  over  the  bare  brown 
lathes.  No  money  now  for  repairs.  Such  jobs  must  lay 
over  till  "  my  ship  came  in.'' 

I  was  often  told  in  these  years  that  I  must  not  look  on  the 
dark  side,  but  pray  and  trust,  and  all  would  be  well.  \ 
noticed  the  persons  who  were  so  ready  with  this  advice  were 
such  as  had  ample  means  to  meet  all  their  necessary  expen- 
ses and  provide  for  contingencies.  With  well-tilled  stomachs, 
well-stored  pantries,  well-roofed  dwellings,  they  came  where 
all  these  things  were  wanting,  and  complacently,  reproving- 
ly, bade  poverty  and  pain  "  Look  on  the  bright  side,  be  re- 
signed, trust  and  pray."  I  recoiled  from  them  with  inex- 
pressible horror.  I  was  as  one  stricken  dumb.  I  don't 
know  as  any  prayer  passed  my  lips  for  months,  beyond  aii 
agonized  groan,  and  I  did  not  know  what  trust  and  resigna- 
tion meant.  1  did  not  think  about  these  things.  Life  was 
paralyzed.  There  were  many  who  w^ould  say,  "  If  you  want 
anything,  let  us  know."  It  is  needless  to  say  I  never  wanted 
anything  on  that  invitation.  Thus  they  would  compel  me 
to;  the  asking  of  perpetual  doles.  There  was  acute  suffer- 
ino-  in   the  most  sensitive  faculties,  and  for  honorable  rea- 


24  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY. 

sons.  One  who  has  no  pride  or  ambition,  no  proper  con- 
sideration for  his  standing  in  society,  and  would  as  soon 
hang  lielpless  on  the  hands  of  others  as  strive  for  his  own 
support,  would  not  be  W(>rthy  the  name  of  man.  There 
had  been  such  a  wrench  and  revoUuiou  in  affairs  that  all  my 
life-long  habits  and  ways  were  changed,  and  I  didn't  know 
myself,  or  the  world  I  was  in.  I  even  apprehended  that 
real  estate  might  become  unreal  beneath  my  feet ;  if  the 
walls  of  my  house  had  shattered  down  into  a  pile  of  jack- 
straws,  1  don't  know  as  I  should  have  been  surprised,  so 
overwhelming  on  me  was  the  uncertainty,  the  evanescent 
nature  of  all  sublunaiy  things.  One  and  another  prayed  for 
my  fortune  to  come  back.  I  should  just  as  soon  have 
thoui^ht  of  praying  for  my  mother  to  come  back.  They 
said  I  must  ask  God  to  take  my  pain  away.  I  don't  think 
I  ever  did  ;  though  I  had  no  formula  of  words,  the  burden 
of  my  spirit  was,  "  Make  me  like  to  thee,  O  Saviour."  1 
was  to  pray  for  daily  bread,  and  I  had  it ;  but  the  loaf  did 
not  drop  down  from  the  sky,  and  as  I  opened  the  window 
come  in  and  take  its  seat  on  the  table  before  me.  No 
miraculous  manna  was  mine.  God  did  not  feed  me  by 
direct  miracle.  None  the  less  did  he  teed  me,  however,  be- 
cause he  did  it  through  the  action  of  powers  and  faculties 
implanted  in  my  nature.  Continuance,  perseverence  he 
stirred  up  to  put  forth  utmost  endeavor.  Through  self-de- 
nial and  arithmetic  I  got  my  daily  food.  I  believe  in  a 
special  divine  Providence,  but  that  it  works  within  the 
sphere  oi  natural  and  social  laws,  and  emph)ys  them. 

"  But  you  could  make  no  provision  for  sickness  on  forty 
dollars  a  year,"  says  one.  That  is  true,  but  people  who  live 
with  such  severe  simplicity  will  not  be  as  liable  to  acute  dis- 
orders as  those  who  are  more  self-indulgent.  Fevers,  pneu- 
monias, summer  complaints,  I  felt  no  apprehension  of,  and 
thev  did  not  visit  me.      I  had  nervous  debility,  heart  diffi- 


culty,  and  the  crippled  arm.  This  arm  would  have  felt  more 
comfortable  if  1  could  have  had  spirits  to  bathe  it  in,  but 
this  1  could  not  afford.     Had  any  severe  illness  befallen,  I 

HALF    A    DIMK    A    DAY. 


must  liHve  inurtgaged  the  house  to  pay  bills.  But  mine 
were  old  chronic  diseases  that  doctors  or  medicines  could 
not  much  beneiit,  nor  was  I  useful  enough  to  iustity  much 

Thus  I  got  along,  with  no  end  of  blame,  criticism,  and 
misrepresentation.  What  person  ever  has  capacity  to  com- 
prehend another?  or  will  make  any  candid  endeavor  to 
realize  another's  situation,  and  intelligently  see  and  admit 
what  they  can  and  what  they  cannot  do  as  they  are  placed  'I 
People  are  absorbed  in  their  own  affairs,  and  their  judg- 
ments of  others  are  very  superficial,  very  unjust  often, 
based  on  no  correct  understanding  of  the  circumstances 
which  environ  the  life  of  the  individual  they  arraign  and 
condemn,  perhaps.  They  take  full  cognizance  of  whatever 
comes  within  the  sphere  of  their  own  interests  and  desires, 
but  other  people,  with  far  different  views  and  aspirations, 
they  do  not  comprehend.  They  are  strange,  there  is  some- 
thing wrong  about  them. 

"  Where  might  be  your  home,  Mr.  V'  asked  a  back-country 
woman  of  a  traveller  who  called  at  her  door. 

"  Boston,  madam,"  was  the  polite  response. 

'•  Dear,  dear,  what  makes  you  live  so  yar  off?"  was  the 
pitying  rejoinder. 

So  people  that  differ  widely  from  our  ideas  and  pursuits 
we  regard  as  ''  far  off',"  and  are  inclined  to  look  on  with  a 
sort  of  condescending  pity,  though  theirs  should  be  the 
privileged  city,  while  ours  is  but  the  rude  or  barren  wilder- 

"  Take  every  one's  advice,  and  then  do  as  you  please," 
says  somebody.  I  had  to  do  so.  Everybody  advised  me  to 
eat  my  house.  How  was  it  possible  to  accept  such  advice  ( 
I  was  not  a  rat  or  squirrel,  and  had  not  the  requisite  mas- 
ticating apparatus.  I  used  to  wish  I  could  eat  the  barn 
sometimes ;  if  it  had  been  built  of  bread  instead  of  boards, 
a  considerable  portion  of  it  would  be  wanting  now,  I  doubt 
not,  for  there  were  some  long,  dreadful  months  of  which  I 
speak  not  at  all.     But  to  sell  my  buildings  in  order  that  1 

26  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY. 

might  eat  pound-cake,  when  I  could  peacefully  inhabit  them 
with  my  pot  of  oatmeal,  what  a  shameful,  inglorious  thing 
to  do !  How  should  I  ever  be  able  to  look  my  parents  in 
the  face  hereafter?  The  old  house  was  all  there  was  left; 
a  shelter,  a  hiding-place,  for  I  was  as  some  hunted  creature 
driven  to  bay.  If  I  could  bear  to  live,  how  could  I  bear  to 
die  elsewhere  'i  1  had  great  love  of  locality,  and  my  ad- 
hesiveness was  as  hoops  of  steel.  With  the  forces  of  my 
nature  at  their  best,  I  doubt  if  I  could  have  summoned  up 
resolution  to  dissever  myself  from  the  old  place.  Now  I 
did  not  entertain  such  a  thouirht. 

There  was  a  pathetic  tale  in  one  of  my  papers,  at  this 
time,  of  two  sisters  who  had  lived  past  middle  age  in  a  cer- 
tain room  of  the  house  in  which  they  were  born.  They 
kept  every  article  of  furniture  standing  just  where  it  had 
stood  when  they  were  little  children  growing  up  with  their 
mother.  They  supported  themselves  by  hand-sewing ;  at 
length  machines  came  and  cut  them  off;  they  could  get  no 
work.  One  of  them  fell  ill,  the  other  got  worn  out  taking 
care  of  her,  and  the  wolf  was  upon  them.  The  overseer  of 
the  poor  went  and  said  it  was  no  use  trying  to  keep  along 
any  further ;  they  must  sell  off  what  they  had,  and  go  to  the 
almshouse  to  be  supported.  The  sister  who  told  the  pitiful 
tale  said  she  guessed  the  man  didn't  mean  to  be  unkind, 
but  he  spoke  in  a  hard  way ;  she  supposed  he  couldn't  know 
what  their  feelings  were  ;  and  after  he  was  gone,  the  younger 
sister,  who  had  been  nursing  the  invalid  one,  went  wild,  walk- 
ed round  and  round  the  room,  touching  each  precious  article 
of  furniture,  whispering:  to  herself  and  wringing  her  hands. 
The  sick  one  cried  herself  to  sleep,  and  when  she  awoke  her 
faithful  nurse  was  gone.  After  three  days  she  was  found 
afar  off  among  some  desolate  hills,  but  reason  had  left  her. 
She  just  moaned,  ^'  Don't  let  them  take  away  my  mother's 
little  table ;  don't  let  them  break  us  up  and  send  us  to  the 

Some  ^humane  people  were  at  length  moved  to  save  the 
few  articles  of  furniture,  and  make  a  provision  by  which  the 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  27 

pair  could  have  a  hmnble  room  to  themselves,  with  the 
things  they  prized  so  much  around  them.  But  the  help 
came  too  late  to  one  of  tiie  poor  sisters;  seasonably  given, 
it  might  have  saved  her  from  breaking  dc>wn.  She  was 
never  herself  again,  but  lived  years  in  a  harmless  insanity, 
and  the  elder  one,  who  took  patient  care  of  her,  said,  '*  1 
suppose  it  is  too  bad  in  me,  but  sometimes  I  can  but  think 
how  different  it  all  miiiht  have  been  if  onlv  some  one  had 
found  out  our  need  and  helped  a  little  before  poor  Harriet 
broke  down." 

Ah,  yes;  if  people  would  not  let  their  good  deeds  lag, 
and  give  the  little  lift,  the  small  help,  at  the  right  moment, 
which  means  so  much  before  and  so  little  after  the  Harriets 
of  the  world  break  down,  how  large  an  amount  of  suffering 
might  be  spared. 

This  pathetic  tale  made  a  deep  impression  on  my  mind  in 
my  present  circumstances.  Were  I  reduced  to  the  condition 
of  this  hapless  Harriet,  I  should  have  no  sister  to  take  care 
of  me.  I  believe  from  sheer  inability  to  act  I  remained 
quiescent  at  this  time,  and  my  ears  were  pained  by  reproaches 
uttered  and  reproaches  implied.  T^o  one  looked  beyond  my 
physical  well  being,  and  this  had  quite  dropped  out  of  sight 
with  me.  It  depressed  and  distressed  me  to  hear  it  named.' 
I  was  dragged  down  and  set  to  complaining  by  people's 
words.  When  left  to  myself  I  maintained  for  the  most  part 
a  much  better  frame  of  mind.  There  were  moments  when 
1  sunk  utterly  down,  and  cried,  "  Oh,  but  to  see  for  an  hour 
the  world  wear  its  wonted  look  ;  to  have  the  burden  lifted  ; 
t<)  have  wiped  out  the  memory  of  cruel  wrong ;  to  feel  I've 
enough  for  all  my  own  wants  and  to  help  others  ;  that  there 
need  be  no  more  struggle  or  anxiety;  and  then  to  die  be- 
fore the  dread  reality  is  rolled  back  on  me." 

But  these  were  moods,  the  fluctuations  of  feeling  not  at 
my  control  while  the  mind  staggered  under  a  succession  of 
severe  shocks..  There  would  be  the  ebb  and  flow  of  courage 
and  resolution.  My  constructive  faculty  was  a  help  and 
comfort ;  it  kept  me  occupied  planning  and  devising  ways 

2S  HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY. 

and  means  of  getting  along.  Then  I  would  read  something 
that  tended  to  moral  growth  and  improvement  of  character, 
and  ponder  and  meditate  upon  it.  It  seemed  to  me  as  if  I 
was  managing  with  my  mind  as  a  mother  will  sometimes 
manage  with  a  child  that  inclines  to  an  object  hurtful  and 
dangerous,  by  coaxing  off  its  attention  in  other  directions, 
and  fixing  it  on  objects  it  may  safely  enjoy.  I  had  also  a 
certain  power  of  concentration  which  I  had  held  in  much 
disesteem  heretofore ;  it  often  made  me  ap))ear  abstracted 
and  moody.  But  now  it  was  one  of  my  best  friends,  as  1 
could,  after  a  brief  conflict,  become  absorbed  in  the  occupa- 
tion of  the  hour,  and  be  intently  knitting  my  sale-socks, 
counting  up  the  proceeds,  and  thinking  what  I  would  buy 
with  the  money.  I  did  a  dozen  pairs  in  a  month  by  great 
industry,  and  got  two  dollars.  This  1  could  not  do  all  the 
time,  owing  to  my  painful,  crippled  arm.  The  work  was 
furnished  me  by  a  Shaker  society.  These  "  peculiar  people'' 
were  very  kind  to  me  in  many  generous  and  thoughtful 
ways.  There  was  a  sweet  *'  Sister  Mary,"  a  poetess,  skilled 
to  make  graceful  and  excellent  gifts.  She  furnished  me 
with  all  the  tea  1  had  for  years.  1  am  not  an  habitual  in- 
dulger  in  the  herb  ;  coffee  I  do  not  use ;  chocolate  but  occa- 
sionally. Luckil}^  I  was  brought  up  on  cold  water,  which 
is  my  favorite  and  accustomed  beverage  still.  These  Sliaker 
Sisters  of  Charity  carried  me  through  one  dark,  dreadful 
time  of  sickness,  destitution,  and  neglect.  I  shall  ever 
remember  them  with  emotions  of  gratitude  and  respect. 
Dr.  Warner  has  sharply  arraigned  the  sect.  Their  way  of 
life  seems  harmless,  if  eccentric.  Of  their  doctrines  I  can- 
not say  more  than  this :  "  The  tree  is  known  by  its  fruits/" 
They  are  a  people  of  eminent  cleanliness,  industry,  kind- 
ness, virtue,  and  good  deeds,  and  this  is  no  contemptible 
record,  nor  one  that  any  person  need  blush  for.  Their  man- 
ners and  customs  may  invite  some  harmless  criticism,  but  to 
enjoy  their  hospitality,  and  then  make  their  peculiarities  the 
target  for  public  satire  and  ridicule,  seems  ungenerous  and 


HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  29 

But  to  resume  my  narrative  :  in  my  humiliation  and  low- 
estate  I  would  have  hailed  with  joy,  as  I  have  said  before, 
any  benevolent  work,  had  there  been  an  opening  for  one  so 
poor  and  reduced  as  myself.  I  languished  most  of  all  be- 
cause I  could  do  nothino^  to  help  an^^body  ;  the  cruelest 
thing  in  the  loss  of  property  was  that  1  had  nothing  more 
to  give,  no  means  to  aid  others.  I  was  not  renowned  for 
prudential  morality  ;  folks  would  tell  nie  I  must  be  more 
sellish — was  it  not  awful  ?  Surely  it  was.  T  hope  I  never 
heeded  them,  but  doubtless  I  did. 

So  at  length  the  summing  up  of  the  whole  story  is,  I  have 
got  along  on  forty  dollars  per  annum  for  a  number  of  years, 
and  sustained  sufficient  vitality  for  a  recluse,  inactive  life; 
a  crippled  invalid  could  not  well  lead  any  other.  I  have  a 
few  household  articles  held  in  reserve  against  emergencies  : 
the  best  things,  however,  were  parted  with  in  my  darkest 
time.  As  to  clothing,  I  hardly  need  more  than  two  wrap- 
pers in  a  year,  and  may  reasonably  hope  to  retain  the  red- 
checkered  tablecloths  to  fall  back  upon  in  case  of  necessity. 
Of  them  1  can  fashion  a  warm-weather  gown  that  will  last 
and  outlast  a  good  many  seasons,  and  for  a  winter  garment 
a  widow  has  promised  to  sell  me  for  a  trifle  a  large  coverlet 
with  some  mouse-holes  knawed  in  it.  It  is  of  coarse  cotton, 
with  overshot  bars  of  woolen,  such  as  were  woven  by  our 
grandmothers.  It  is  not  indigo-blue-and-white,  as  were 
many  coverlets  of  this  period,  but  chocolate-and-white,  of 
medium  sized  plaids.  This  I  purpose  to  d3'e  of  a  dark  color, 
and  convert  into  a  cold-weather  dress,  if  need  be.  I  was 
always  taught  to  have  some  foresight  for  the  future.  As  to 
shoes,  I've  still  enough  of  the  fulled  cloth  of  the  old  over- 
coat of  my  father's  to  supply  me  a  lifetime.  Bonnets  don't 
signify,  as  I  have. practically  demonstrated  by  successfully 
repudiating  them  for  the  space  of  four  years.  So  I  am 
provided  with  clothing  for  an  indefinite  period  to  come.  1 
do  not  see  as  I  need  to  spend  fifty  cents  in  five,  perhaps  in 
ten  years,  should  I  live  so  long,  to  help  procure  any  neces- 
sary article  of  dress.     So  I  may  lay  by  enough  to  patch  the 

3©  HALF    A    DIME    A     DAY. 

leaky  roof  and  putty  the  most  clattering  glass  into  the  most 
clatteiing  windows.  I  ought  to  be  able  to  hold  my  own  on 
reading,  and  have  an  extra  dollar  or  two  for  charity. 

1  do  not  say  my  tastes  and  aspirations  are  gratified  in  this  • 
stern,  severe  life.  No,  they  are  all,  or  nearly  all,  sacriiiced. 
My  eye  hungers :  if  by  chance  I  get  a  glimpse  of  some  rare 
picture,  or  other  "  thing  of  beauty,"  a  great  pan^j  convulses 
me  ;  for  the  world  of  art  is  and  must  be  an  unknown  world 
to  me.  Only  the  few  familiar  views  in  nature  round  my 
low  valley  home  may  my  eyes  behold  ;  the  changing  sea- 
sons make  the  sole  variety.  My  ear  hungers  for  all  sweet 
sounds.  I  hear  but  nature's  music — the  birds  in  summer, 
the  roaring  winds  in  winter.  I  read  of  other  lands  than 
ours :  from  the  printed  page  alone  must  I  draw  my  knowl- 
edge of  them.  I  shall  never  see  grand  old  England,  beau- 
tiful France,  wild  Switzerland,  classic  Greece,  sacred  Pales- 
tine. It  had  been  the  dearest  hope  of  my  life  to  some  time 
know  them  by  the  seeing  of  the  eye ;  the  tears  come,  the 
heart  aches,  as  it  cries,  "  What  loss,  what  loss."  I  was  the 
most  enthusiastic  traveller ;  my  delight  mounted  into 
ecstasy.  I  was  unconscious  of  fatigue  and  above  annoyance. 
Art  and  beauty  were  as  thrones  whereon  I  walked  in  supreme 
exaltation.  But  these  were  lost  delights;  the  hand  I  had 
deemed  so  trusty  was  scattering  my  few^  thousands  when  I 
knew  it  not,  and  all  had  been  gone  beyond  retrieval  years 
before  it  was  suffered  to  come  to  my  knowledge. 

But  my  wants  grow  fewer  and  simpler  as  to  the  body  ; 
the  mind  is  just  as  clamorous  as  ever ;  it  is  the  humored 
child  that  has  got  the  upper  hand.  I  keep  the  magazines, 
and  get  now'  and  then  a  new  book.  All  my  reading  is 
valuable,  and  will  thus  bear  going  over  again  and  again.  My 
relish  is  keen  and  vigorous.  I  have  reason  to  thank  God 
every  day  that  he  gave  me  a  taste  for  reading,  as  this  one 
taste  J  am  able  to  gratify  in  a  measure.  Sometimes  I  think 
it  has  been  my  salvation  from  total  wreck  and  imbecility  of 
mind  ;  it  was  my  one  solace  and  relief  in  darkest  times, 
and  the  love  and  gratitude  I  bear  those  authors  whose  words 

HALF    A    DIME    A    DAY.  3J 

gave  me  sustaining  support,  and  inspired  to  hope  and  en- 
deavor, are  the  deepest  and  most  cherished  feeh'ngs  of  my 
heart.  Pre-eminent  among  them  are  Mr.  Beecher,  Phillips 
Brooks,  Whittier,  and  Dr.  Holland.  I  pometimes  dream  1 
see  and  converse  with  them  so  pleasantly  ;  these  dream-land 
interviews  are  more  heartening  than  those  with  real  flesh 
and  blood  often,  for  the  vail  seems  to  be  done  away  in  them. 
There  is  perfect  clearness  and  comprehension.  But  let  me 
not  incur  the  charge  of  mysticism,  foi-  I  am  in  truth  the 
most  real  and  practical  creature,  only  given  to  moods  now 
and  then.     Who  is  not? 

My  fortune  has  not  returned  ;  my  loss  has  not  been  made 
up  to  me  in  any  worldly  sense  ;  I  have  not  escaped  poverty  ; 
I  have  only  disarmed  it,  in  a  measure,  and  that  by  letting  go 
of  lower  things  and  reaching  up  to  higher.  1  never  loved 
shams,  or  was  good  at  feigning  what  I  did  not  feel.  Gen- 
teel worldlings  complained  of  my  bluntness.  It  is  not  pos-. 
sible  for  me  to  make  an  appearance  in  society,  but  if  I  thus 
lose  much,  I  feel  I  also  escape  nmch;  there  are  many  evil 
things  in  society.  Mine  is  a  sincere  and  real  life,  sitting 
loose  to  time,  and  looking  serenely  towards  eternity.  Dark 
things,  mysterious  things,  as  touching  the  conduct  of  others 
towards  me  in  days  of  sorest  need  and  trouble,  have  per- 
plexed and  pained  my  mind — have  been  beyond  the  bitter- 
ness of  death  to  my  soul.  When  the  secrets  of  all  hearts 
are  revealed  these  things  shall  be  made  plain. 

Wealth  brings  great  responsibilities;  I  do  not  suppose  I 
should  have  known  how  to  administer  it  wisely  and  well. 
But  mine  was  only  a  competence,  and  the  chief  comfort  of 
my  life  was  gone  when  1  no  longer  had  it  to  deal  out  from  as 
I  could  in  benevolent  ways.  T  only  wish  I  had  given  more 
while  1  could. 

But  words  like  these  are  idle.  What  is  gone  cannot  be 
retrieved.  I  have  tried  and  succeeded  in  maintaining  a 
tolerable  independence  on  forty  dollars  for  a  term  of  years, 
and  am  encouraged  to  hope  I  may  be  able  thus  to  do  to  the 


HALF    A     DIME    A     PAY. 

If  tliis  recital  is  deetned  indelicate,  I  am  most  imliai)py  it 
I  leave  the  impression  that  I  obtrude  on  the  public  a  tale  of 
loss  and  need  after  the  fashion  of  a  beggar.  This  is  not  a 
polite  or  an  impolite  solicitation  of  alms.  It  is  a  declara- 
tion ot  independence  rather— I  don't  know  but  a  proud 
one.  I  dare  not  say  it  is  not  egotism,  but  it  is  the  egotism 
of  humble  things— even  of  oatmeal  and  home-made  woolen 
Bhoee,  ^'  ^*       • 







Thi8  Pokm  was  used  acceptabh'  as  a  Lecture,  till  loss  «)f  health 
prevented  the  author  from  going  abroad  with  it,  and  is  published  by 
request  of  friends  who  wished  to  retain  it  in  more  permanent  form. 

L.   H    M 

•-     •     -• 

••  For  so  an  entranci*  shall  l>e  ministered   unto  you  abundantly  into  the  evcrUu^tinjj 
kint;dom  of  our  Lord  and  Saviour  Jesus  Christ."    2  Peter  1:11. 

There  rose  a  stately  mansion  on  a  fashionable  street. 

In  all  the  proud  regalia  of  wealth  it  stood  complete  ; 

The  bigli  brick  walls  looked  as  if  they  might  any  shock  endure. 

Against  all  common  menace  there  life  would  be  secure. 

'Twi.xt  bronzed  lions  on  the  porch  the  owner  went  and  came, 
A  man  of  wealth,  position,  influence,  by  common  fame  : 
From  small  beginnings  he  had  won  his  way  to  this  renown, 
AVhate'er  'tis  worth,  that  he  was  "one  of  the  heaviest  men  in  town." 

In  two  ways  heavy  :  as  to  purse  and  person,  short  and  stout. 
Priding  himself  that  he  had  quite  an  aristocratic  gout, 
Wiiich  made  it  prudent  he  a  plethoric  supper  should  forego. 
Which  he  did,  saying  piously,   "Self  denial's  good  for  the  flesh,  you 

This  man  sat  over  the  register  in  his  parlor  grand  and  fair, 

With  a  purse-proud,  consequential,  no-trouble-can-catch-me  air  ; 

'Gainst  wreck  and  ruin,  disaster,  misfortune,  woe.  I'm  proof, 

Such  ugly  shapes,  such  untoward  things,  "come  not  beneath  my  roof." 

When  he  heard  the  name  of  a  friend   that  embarked  with  him  in  the 

world's  hot  strife, 
He  would  ask,  as  he  blandly  stroked  his  beard.  "  Has  he  had  success  in 

life  ^" 
And    if  it    was  answered    back,    "  Success  !     He's  as    rich  as  a  silver 

mine  !" 
Our  rich  man  would  smile  his  sweetest,  and  say,  "  I  shall  ask  him  home 

to  dine. 


''  I  remember  how  as  a  little  chap  he'd  have  the  best  end  in  a  trade. 
He  could  always  hold  his  own,  and  knew,  as  a  boy,  how  money  was 

made  ; 
I'm  not  surprised  to  know  as  a  man  he's  made  in  the  world  his  mark. 
And  has  his  live-storied  mansion  in  midst  of  a  splendid  park. 

"But  his  morals  are  none  of  the  best,  'tis  said  ;  his  charities  seldom 

used — 
"Ah,  gossip  and  scandal— the  rich  are  always  criticised  and  abused 
B}^  the  envious  poor,  the  spiritless  ones,  who  haven't  the  pluck  or  grit 
To  build  their  own  fortunes,  and  snarl  at  all  who  have  the  skill  and 


On  the  rich  man's  walls  hung  gems  of  art  from  over  oceans  wide  ; 
There  rose  the  fair  white  castles  of  the  Adriatic's  bride, 
There  glowed  the  warmth  and  brightness  of  fair  Italian  skies. 
There  marbles,  vases,  and  antiques,  held  captive  cultured  eyes. 

Rare  books  in  costly  bindings  in  lengthened  rows  appear, 
The  quiet  scholar  might  delight  to  pass  a  lifetime  here  ; 
But  the  lord  of  this  domain,  so  rich,  extensive,  and  complete. 
Read  but  the  news  and  business  items  in  the  daily  sheet. 

Through  gold-bowed  spectacles  he  read  of  financial  failures  broad, 

In  self-secure  serenity  of  another  stupendous  fraud  ! 

For  his  own  unharmed  prosperity  he  gave  a  sigh  of  relief, 

"  But  folks  that  leave  things  at  loose  ends  deserve  to  come  to  grief." 

•'He  was  always  cautious,  prudent — well,  pretty  far-sighted,  too — 
Always  watched  men  with  sharpness — served^ his  own  interests  true; 
No  visions  or  schemes  or  lottery  risks  e're  worried  him  as  he  slept ; 
He  got  his  gains  in  honest  ways,  and  what  he  got  he  kept." 

Thus  he  became  a  lord  of  wealth,  the  way  was  simple  and  plain, 
If  he  had  his  life  to  live  over  he  could  do  the  same  thing  again  ; 
So  there  the  rich  man  stroked  his  beard  in  his  gorgeous,  gilded  bovver. 
Saying,  "See  how   money  brings  ease  and  safety,  independence  and 
power  !" 

With  all  his  wealth  he  had  a  greed  and  craving  after  more  ; 

When  a  relative  lost  the  money  she  for  age  had  laid  in  store, 

He  said,   "If  she'd  give  him  the  farm  she  had  left,  he'd  see  her  safely 

She  should  have  a  chamber  furnished  in  oak,  looking  out  on  the  avenue.'' 

This  man  held  rent-rolls,  mortgages,  bank  stock  and  bonds  in  piles. 
Masses  of  people  fawned  on  him  with  sycophantic  smiles  ; 
He  owned  a  pew  in  a  splendid  church,  with  cushions  in  velvet  case. 
And  thither  he  walked  in  broadcloth  with  a  sanctimonious  face. 


And  the  parsou  understood  his  part  and  gracefully  wory  the  curb. 
Xo  vociferous  tones  his  wealthy  patron's  decorous  nap  to  disturb  ! 
No  animadverting  on  sin  and  self,  but  a  mild,  engaging  look — 
He  never  read  of  Dives  and  Lazarus  from  the  Holy  Book  ! 

And  as  the  rich  man  and  liis  wife  walked  home  in  silken  sheen, 
He  spoke  of  "  the  minister's  eloquence  and  gracefulness  of  mien  ; 
His  learning  vast,  his  doctrine  sound  beyond  all  preachers  in  town. 
And  to  secure  him  he  had  paid  an  extra  thousand  down  !" 

"  Nothing  to  boast  of  ;  'twas  his  way  always  to  buy  the  best ; 
To  help  build  up  the  church  he  paused  not  to  be  urged  or  prest  ; " 
But  the  odor  of  the  rich  man's  sanctity  was  not  too  fine. 
Nor  unto  books  or  knowledge  or  grace  did  he  incline. 

Nay,  he  murdered  the  king's  English  in  his  eftbrts  to  converse  ; 

If  he  tried  to  be  agreeable,  his  luck  was  even  worse  ! 

His  pleasantries  degenerated  into  something  low, 

To  call  to  modesty's  white  cheek  the  red  blood's  crimson  glow. 

Had  this  man  to  whom  dollars  gave  dignity  been  numbered  among  thr 

He  would  have  been  reckoned  by  one  and  all  a  vulgar,  ill-mannered 

boor  ; 
But  now  he  was  just  "  eccentric,  a  trifle  quaint  and  queer  ; 
He'd  a  right  to  be  on  an  income  of  fifty  thousand  a  year  !" 

Down  back  of  the  splendid  avenue  was  the  poorest  kind  of  a  cot, 

In  the  window  a  flowering  jasmine  in  a  bit  of  broken  pot  ; 

Here  lived  a  widow  and  mother  on  wiiat  her  hands  could  glean, 

By  going  to  the  house  of  the  rich  man  on  Mondays  to  wash  and  clean. 

Sometimes  as  .she  brushed  the  specks  of  dust  from  the  parlor's  frescoed 

Her  sunken  eye  in  a  passing  gaze  on  the  works  of  art  would  fall, 
A  sudden  light  would  a  moment  flash,  and  a  tear  unbidden  roll, 
As  a  tremor  of  the  compressed  lip  spoke  the  hunger  of  the  soul. 

But  the  rich  man  never  thought  of  her  in  her  humbleness  and  need, 

Save  as  a  luckless,  spiritless  one,  not  smart  enough  to  succeed  ; 

He  threw  her  her  dole  when  the  work  was  done,  and  so  this  was  never 

He  thought  no  more  of  the  poor  creature  than  if  she  did  not  e.xist. 

Why  should  he  think  of  one  like  her  ?    "All  people  have  their  place. 
Some  hold  their  own  and  march  ahead,  while  others  lag  in  the  race  ; 
Some  are  maudlin  in  capacity,  some  lazy,  and  idle,  and  shirk, 
But  the  man  who  builds  a  fortune  deserves  to  enjoy  his  work." 


Thus  pondered  and  spake  the  rich  man,  unruffled  by  harrowing  fears, 
[n  the  amplitude  of  affluence  and  his  well-kept  sixty  years, 
As  'twixt  the  bronzed  lions  at  eve  he  stood  and  the  scene  surveyed. 
And  said  in  the  pride  of  life,  "  No  blight  on  this  home  shall  be  laid  !" 

"  Some  men  are  rash  and  careless,  all  disaster  they  invite, 

Hut  there's  no  trouble  in  keeping  things  straight  if  one  but  manages 

right  ; 
My  wealth  shall  never  be  swallowed  up  in  the  gulf  of  bankruptc}-^ 
And  death— I'm  hale  and  hearty — that's  a  long  way  off  from  me  !" 

So  saying,  he  closed  the  great  hall  door  that  opened  towards  the  street. 
The  gas  burned  clear,  the  plushy  carpets  hushed  the  tread  of  his  feet  ; 
Enclosed  with  his  own  magnificence  in  those  stately  walls  of  brick, 
A  sudden  pang  seized  on  his  heart,  he  fell  down  deathly  sick. 

The  lights  went  out.  the  floor  grew  cold  and  hard  beneath  his  frame, 
He  vainly  strove  to  utter  one  familiar  household  name, 
And  only  the  poor  washing-woman,  'kerchief  on  her  head. 
And  brush  in  hand  to  dust  the  hall,  there  found  him  lying  dead! 

Then  soon  the  sudden,  solemn  news  swept  all  the  city  o'er. 
And  the  funereal  crape  was  knotted  on  to  many  a  door. 
While  the  body  lay  in  state  beneath  the  richest  of  velvet  palls, 
And  Italy  and  the  Adriatic  wore  sable  upon  the  walls. 

I»y  pall-bearers  in  deepest  black  the  casket  then  was  lain 

Within  the  flower-en  wreathed  hearse,  while  long  and  sumptuous  train 

Of  carriages,  with  coal-black  steeds,  bore  the  procession  slow, 

To  lay  the  bodv  in  that  cool  bed  all  flesh  at  last  shall  know. 

And  as  the  funeral  cortege  was  passing  beyond  view, 

Large  groups  of  men  and  women  flocked  along  the  avenue. 

To  gaze  with  solemn  admiration  on  the  grand  display. 

And  say,  '"Tis  the  grandest  funeral  we've  seen  for  many  a  day  ! 

"  Ah,  sudden  was  the  summons  to  deliver  up  his  breath, 
But  how  the  rich  and  great  of  earth  are  honored  in  their  death  !" 
One  said  his  "home  here  was  so  fair  it  could  hardlj'  be  outshone 
By  all  the  light  and  brilliaticy  of  heaven's  great  white  thnme." 

Xow  I  sat  by  an  upper  window  as  the  train  went  by, 
While  all  its  pomp  and  sumptuousness  passed  slow  before  the  eye. 
And  said,   "Sure  an  'abundant'  exit  from  this  life  is  this  ! 
Mow  will  it  be  about  the  'entrance*  to  the  bowers  of  bliss  ? 


"  When  the  broad  and  pearly  portal  on  its  golden  hinges  opes. 
Will  the  choiring  bands  of  'seraphs  fly  adown  the  verdant  slopes. 
With  songs  and  peans  of  welcome  ringing  sweetly  far  and  clear. 
To  usher  in  the  man  who,  dying,  had  such  honors  here  ?" 

And  when  the  casket  carefully  was  lowered  to  its  place, 
And  the  procession  turned  away  with  sadness  in  its  face. 
Some  new  power  lent  to  sight  gave  me  to  see  the  man  that  was  gone 
Take  up  the  still  march  from  the  grave  in  silence  and  alone. 

At  first  he  had  the  lordly  tread,  the  consequential  air. 
That  in  the  circles  where  he  moved  on  earth  he  used  to  wear  ; 
The  rich  man  still,  engirt  with  power,  prestige,  and  splendor  great. 
And  confident  of  grand  reception  at  the  upper  gate. 

But  as  he  trod  the  narrow  path  clear  outlined  to  my  view, 
I  could  not  long  conceal  the  fact  that  he  small  and  smaller  grew; 
And  lost,  moreover,  the  serene,  assured,  expectant  air, 
Seemed  rather  loath  to  reach  the  gate,  than  longing  to  be  there. 

When  he  at  length  the  portal  gained,  it  stood  there  closed  and  grim, 
Oped  not  with  smiles,  as  doors  on  earth  ere  opened  unto  him  ; 
A  shadow  of  himself  was  left,  which  worked  its  slow  way  in. 
But  no  singing  or  outshining  did  this  meagre  "entrance"  win. 

And   then   through  mournful  days  in  the  great  sumptuous  mansion, 

The  owner  was  so  sudden  called  by  a  strange  providence, 
Were  heard  the  voices  of  the  rich  who  came  to  sympathize. 
And  say  the  "  dear  deceased  had  g(me  to  God  in  Paradise." 

The  relatives,  from  places  far,  a  sad  and  lingering  throng. 
Proud  of  their  claim,  if  slender,  to  such  aflHuence  to  belong, 
Bore  down  with  heavier  burdens,  till  strength  at  last  o'ertried. 
The  poor  widow,  the  faithful  servant,  sank  'neath  them  and  died. 

Then  consternation  seized  the  mistress,  thus  again  to  be  crossed  ; 
And  lose  the  trusty  servant  just  when  she  was  needed  most ; 
But  the  orphaned  boy— on  the  plain  coffin  sat  the  jasmine-pot — 
Followed  his  mother  ou  foot  alone  to  the  poor  people's  lot. 

Gazing  from  out  my  window  I  beheld  this  poor  boy  go. 
Weeping  along  the  lileak,  bare  street,  his  shoes  out  at  the  toe, 
While  careless  persons  passing  saw  the  scant  and  meagre  train, 
And  said,  "  Some  heir  of  poverty  has  got  through  with  the  pain."' 


But  memory  hurried  me  away  to  a  long-gone-by  time, 

When  this  woman,  going  to  lier  grave,  stood  bright  in  life's  glad  prime, 

With  friends  and  hopes  and  prospects  as  fair  as  any  spread 

Round  the  inmates  of  that  mansion  where  late  she  dropped  down  dead. 

The  only  child  of  tender  i)arents,  reared  with  culturing  care, 
Gifted  with  powers  beyond  her  sex,  of  taste  and  beauty  rare  ; 
Her  young  hand  skilled  to  use  the  pencil  in  the  work  of  art, 
Dowered  as  few  are  ever  dowered  with  gifts  of  mind  and  heart. 

And  when  the  doting  parents  descended  to  the  grave, 
They  left  their  child  a  competence  of  all  that  heart  could  crave  ; 
While  she,  with  tiue  beneficence,  became  a  friend  in  need 
To  all  that  she  could  succor  and  relieve  by  generous  deed. 

Some  years  she  thus  dispensed  her  charities  with  modest  grace. 
In  many  a  heart  won  for  herself  an  enviable  place, 
Till  crafty  ones  laid  hands  upon  her  lovely  cottage  home. 
And  cast  her  forth  in  penury  through  a  cold  world  to  roam. 

Hut  one  true  heart  acknowledged  her  its  choicest  and  its  best, 
And  they  twain  by  close  industry  builded  a  little  nest ; 
Vines  clambered  o'er  the  porch,  and  pictures  on  the  low  walls  hung. 
O'er  the  cradle  the  young  mother-bird  her  sweetest  carols  sung. 

One  day  the  clarion  call  of  war  rang  through  the  loyal  land, 
And  the  hus])aud  buckled  on  his  sword  to  join  the  patriot  baud  ; 
The  wife  choked  down  the  rising  sob,  and  tried  hard  not  to  mourn, 
Though  feeling  in  her  heart  of  hearts  her  lord  would  ne'er  return. 

Nor  did  he  ;  and  she  never  knew  on  what  dread  field  he  fell, 
Or  if  his  bones  found  sepulchre  no  one  returned  to  tell  ; 
But  from  the  fearful  stroke  she  rallied,  thinking  of  her  boy. 
Her  every  power  and  energy  for  his  sake  to  employ. 

For  a  few  years  she  fought  the  battle  with  a  spirit  brave, 
Hoping  her  little  dovecote  from  the  sw'oop  of  want  to  save. 
And  then  her  strength  forsook  her,  and  in  despairing  mood 
She  sold  the  pictures  from  her  walls  to  buy  her  daily  food. 

When  all  was  gone,  the  neighbors  bore  her  on  a  tattered  bed 
To  the  poor  hut,  scarce  better  than  a  rickety  woodshed  : 
Of  friends  and  home,  with  all  its  needed  comforts  so  bereft. 
Her  little  boy  and  the  flowering  jasmine,  all  that  she  had  left. 

And  then  to  name  the  woes  that  came  would  drive  a  kind  heart  wild  ; 
She  would  have  ended  her  own  life  if  it  had  not  been  for  the  child  ; 
To  feed  and  clothe  her  baby  boy  she  worked  when  like  to  sink. 
For  him  love  hardness,  insolence,  on  which  slic  dared  not  think. 


Ofttimes  the  little  one  was  tucked  snug  in  the  tattered  bed, 
While  she  went  forth  in  the  night  time,  storms  beating  on  her  head. 
To  watch  beside  some  invalid  less  needing  such  close  care, 
Than  the  frail,  tottering  form  that  kept  the  midnight  vigil  there. 

At  last  she  found  the  rich  man's  house  upon  the  avenue. 

And  the  mistress  said,   "  So  nice  a  girl  for  work  she  never  knew  ; 

So  quiet,  unobtrusive,  refined  in  all  her  ways, 

So  much  like  a  person  who  had  once  known  better  days." 

And  when  the  patient  servant  went  home  from  toil  at  nicht 
She  carried  in  her  saddened  eye  a  faint  gleam  of  delight. 
As  she  told  to  her  little  boy  of  paintings  rich  and  rare, 
And  other  gems  of  art  that  decked  the  rich  man's  parlors  fair. 

And  bow  her  poor  heart  hungered  for  all  that  she  had  not, 
While  tears  fell  from  the  weary  eyes  into  the  jasmine-pot ; 
Things  beautiful  were  unto  her  as  life  and  health  and  power. 
But  her  home  was  in  a  hovel,  with  but  one  pale  jasmine-flower. 

The  very  fineness  of  the  gifts  with  which  she  was  endowed 
Unfitted  her  for  contact  with  the  rude  and  jostling  crowd  ; 
Her  rare,  rich  tastes  went  famishing  through  days  of  want  so  long. 
With  every  hour  embittered  by  a  crushing  sense  of  wrong. 

In  all  the  say  and  busy  world  she  did  no  station  fill. 

Yet  to  the  pure  and  beautiful  her  soul  was  all  a  thrill  ; 

Why  she  should  be  denied  the  things  she  would  so  highly  prize. 

Was  mystery  inscrutable  to  her  weak,  earth-bound  eyes. 

"What  have  I  done  V"  tllus  this  poor  creature  would  sometimes  ask, 

'tis  true, 
"That  I  can't  have,  like  the  millionaire,  a  house  on  the  avenue. 
All  filled  with  works  of  genius,  the  richest  spoils  of  art. 
To  charm  the  eye  of  culture,  hold  spell-bound  mind  and  heart  ?" 

She  bore  along  the  waste  of  years  such  ruthless  memories 
As  robbed  the  few  hours  snatched  from  toil  of  restfulness  and  ease  : 
The  falsity,  the  slights,  the  woes  want  brings  in  endless  train. 
Known  but  to  those  who  have  themselves  endured  the  cruel  pain. 

Her  heart,  refined  and  .sensitive,  and  timid  as  the  roe. 
Shrank,  wounded,  from  coarse  contact  with  the  vulgar  and  the  low  ; 
Her  ear,  that  all  sweet  harmonies  to  rapture  might  have  stirred. 
Smarted  beneath  the  scorching  touch  of  ribald  jest  and  word. 


(Jft  when  she  saw  her  little  one  in  freaks  of  childish  joy, 
She'd  thank  the  heavenly  Father  her  darling  was  a  boy  ; 
For  thus  his  lot  might  be  less  hard,  but  better  that  he  die 
Than  live  to  cause  the  widow  and  the  fatherless  to  sigh. 

Had  this  poor  child  of  want  been  told  that  in  the  mansions  fair 
A  radiant  crown  awaited  her  which  she  ere  long  sliould  wear, 
She  would  have  said  with  listless  look,   "I  care  not  for  a  crown," 
And  she'd  have  bartered  it,  if  she  could,  for  bread  and  a  decent  gown  ! 

Had  the  rich  been  told  this  child  of  want  would  wear  a  diadem 

In  splendor  far  outshining  earth's  brightest  gold  and  gem, 

They  would  have  said,   '*  'Twill  ill  become  and  set  with  most  ill  grace 

Above  that  haggard,  hollow,  much-marred,  and  careworn  face." 

They  could  not  know  how  one  soft  wave  from  the  sea  of  heavenly  rest 
Might  lave  the  lines  of  care  away  so  deeply  there  impressed, 
And  leave  the  poor,  jiiuched  face  more  fair,  more  lovely  and  serene, 
Than  all  of  fairest  loveliness  this  earth  hath  ever  seen. 

All  life  was  pain  and  woe  to  her,  her  food  but  scant  and  coarse. 
Against  her  sore  besetments  she  beat  with  tailing  force, 
.\nd  when  one  extra  burden  was  added  to  the  rest, 
The  fluttering  breath  departed  from  her  worn  and  weary  breast. 

And  as  I  saw  the  rude  wagon  jaunt  towards  the  churchyard  gate, 
I  said,  "In  this  sad  world  of  ours  mysterious  is  fate  ; 
But  yesterday  the  rich  man's  obsequies,  in  pomp  and  pride, 
And  now  the  rough  pine  coffin  hastes  its  poverty  to  hide." 

But  while  I  gazed  again,  that  power  was  given  to  my  eyes 
By  which  they  looked  along  the  pathway  leading  to  the  skies  ; 
The}^  saw  a  shape  as  of  a  thin-clad  woman  rise  to  view, 
And  wearily  commence  the  march  up  towards  the  ether  blue. 

So  wearily,  so  shrinkingly,  she  started  on  her  way, 
I  looked  to  see  her  sink  to  earth  in  languor  and  dismay  ; 
But  still  she  tottered  on  and  on,  until  at  length  I  saw 
Her  line  of  march  a  better  grace  and  more  precision  draw. 

When  she  set  out  the  way  was  rough,  the  sky  heavy  and  dark, 
But  the  path  grew  smoother,  and  I  heard  the  song  of  a  skylark 
Singing  afar  aloft,  as  'twere  from  out  a  love-lit  home  ; 
Then  turning  towards  the  woman,  a  change  o'er  her  had  come. 


A  gracefulness  wUs  on  the  garb  where  poverty  had  been, 
A  freer  movement  of  the  frame,  a  livelier  look  and  mien  ; 
A  kindling  light  within  the  eye,  on  lip  a  dawning  smile, 
Sky  growing  ever  brighter,  lark  singing  sweeter  the  while. 

Until  at  length  far  upward  a  city  I  descried, 

Oh,  fairer  than  fair  Venice,  the  Adriatic's  bride  ; 

The  splendor  of  the  vision  made  me  withdraw  my  gaze. 

And  I  said,   "This  shrinking  woman  will  falter  with  amaze  !" 

Then  all  the  air  grew  vocal  with  songs  too  sweet  to  tell. 
And  when  my  eyes  again  upon  the  poor  lone  traveller  fell, 
What  wondrous  transformation  was  wrought  in  one  short  hour. 
Wherein  both  soul  and  body  burst  into  glorious  flower. 

Then  I  saw  shining  seraphs  fly  o'er  a  crystal  gate, 
With  glad  impatience  on  their  brows,  as  if  they  ill  could  wait 
The  arrival  of  the  traveller  for  whom  their  fair  hands  hold 
The  palm  of  victory,  the  harp,  the  crown  of  shining  gold. 

Once  more  I  glanced  towards  the  voyager,  saying,  "Surely  now 
There'll  be  some  look  of  vague  alarm  upon  that  shrinking  brow  ; 
On  earth  she  was  so  poor  and  crushed  ;"  but  I  heard  a  glad,  free  tone 
Sing,   "Oh,  the  bliss  of  finding — I'm  coming  to  my  own  ! 

"They  know  me,  and  I  know  them  ;  farewell  to  earth  and  woe, 
Here's  purity  and  beauty,  the  things  I  loved  below  ; 
The  poverty  was  accident,  all  that  is  left  behind. 
Forgotten  now  for  ever  in  the  bliss  of  immortal  mind. 

"  Oh,  joy  !  my  tireless  footsteps  shall  scale  the  heavenly  mount, 
My  soul  shall  drink  in  knowledge  at  the  unfailing  fount  ! 
My  eyes  feast  on  such  glories  as  earth  has  never  known. 
Oh,  the  bliss  of  finding— I'm  coming  to  my  own  ! 

"  The  songs  that  long  lay  buried  deep  down  in  my  heart's  deep  well, 
And  which  there  ne'er  was  given  me  the  power  on  earth  to  tell. 
The  lips  that  bore  repression  and  the  seal  of  silence  long, 
Glad  utterance  is  coming  ;  oh  !  they're  bursting  into  song  !" 

Wide  swung  the  pearly  portals  to  the  throngs  of  seraphs  fair. 
Waving  their  soft  white  shapely  hands  in  the  sweet  perfumed  air  ; 
From  o'er  the  crystal  battlements  glad  strams  of  music  rung. 
As  if  all  heaven's  inhabitants  in  one  glad  chorus  sung  ! 




0  014  180  269  0  V 

Again  I  saw  my  traveller,  but  she  faltered  not  a  pace, 
Her  whole  form  shone  at  every  moment  with  new  added  grace  ; 
She  took  the  palm  of  victory,  the  harp,  with  outstretched  hand. 
And  wore  her  crown  as  queenly  as  an>  seraph  of  the  band. 

Then  all  the  angel  groups  fell  backward  in  a  circling  ring, 
And  bade  the  new  comer  "Go  forward,  hasten  to  the  King  ; 
lie  waiteth  to  receive  you  before  the  great  white  throne. 
As  one  by  poverty  and  woe  stamped  as  his  very  own." 

**  But  wont  she  fear  the  inner  glories  of  this  heavenly  place  ?" 

I  ([uestioned  ;  but  a  softer  lustre  now  bedewed  her  face, 

As  straight  her  footsteps  passed  the  portal  to  the  shout,   "All  hail  !" 

A\ud,  "  Welcome  home,  my  daughter,  you're  safe  within  the  vail." 

Then  I  thought  how  grand  the  exit  on  the  rich  man's  funeral  day, 
And  how  he  less  and  lesser  grew  upon  the  shining  wa,y  ; 
And  of  the  shrinking  woman  in  her  coffin  of  pine  wood, 
Who  now  a  crowned  seraph  before  her  Saviour  stood. 

Then  knew  1  wliat  "abundant  entrance"  into  heaven  meant. 
And  felt  I  cared  not  how  obscure  my  days  on  earth  were  spent  ; 
How  bare  of  costly  equipage  I  was  borne  to  the  tomb. 
So  I  gained  •* abundant  entrance"  to  the  bowers  of  endless  bloom, 

L.  H.  M. 



0  014  180  269  0